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ASIA RUGBY WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP 2024 PREVIEW – RWC 2025 & WXV QUALIFICATION ON THE LINE

Entry to the first Hong Kong China Women’s match at King’s Park Sports Ground on 22 May is free, and fans will not need a ticket to attend. Tickets for the second Hong Kong China Women’s match at Hong Kong Football Club on 1 June (a doubleheader with the Men’s match) will be on sale soon. Details will be updated on this page and shared across our social media channels.


The Asia Rugby Women’s Championship (ARWC) will be hosted in Hong Kong in 2024. The tournament gets underway on 22 May with the Hong Kong China Women facing a strong Japanese Sakura side in their opener at King's Park Sports Ground, before a key clash with Kazakhstan on 1 June at the Hong Kong Football Club.


The Hong Kong China squad is set to be bolstered by several members of the Hong Kong China Sevens team due to the significance of this year’s Championship.


Rugby World Cup 2025 & WXV 2024 Pathways

This season, the Championship (which is the 13th edition of the tournament) will also act as a direct qualifier for the Rugby World Cup 2025 for the winner, who will also earn the right to play in WXV2, while the runner-up will play in WXV3.


The team that qualifies as runner-up in ARWC 2024 still has a potential pathway to RWC 2025.

Experienced Hong Kong China player, Wai Yan Pun (PY), said, “World Cup qualification is definitely our goal. Having the Sevens girls involved in the campaign with us, especially some experienced World Cup players like Natasha Olson-Thorne & Ka Yan Chong, gives the team lots of confidence and energy.”


WXV 2024 will be played in September and October as the second edition of the global Women’s XVs tournament, and will be hosted by South Africa (WXV 2) and Dubai (WXV 3).

Six RWC 2025 spots will go to the highest-finishing WXV 2024 teams who have not yet qualified through RWC 2021 and the regional tournaments.


PY added, “WXV provides lots of exposure and opportunities for Women’s Rugby as we can play with different regions that we rarely face. It gives us a solid platform to improve ourselves to become more competitive on the world stage. I hope the exposure would inspire more young girls to get involved in rugby, and even represent Hong Kong China.” 

 

Preparation – Brumbies & Japan

Hong Kong China’s Acting General Manager of Rugby Performance Andrew Douglas confirmed that the coaches and management have had to be “careful around the selection process” as the Hong Kong China Women’s Sevens side is in action just before the ARWC gets underway and several regulars from the Sevens programme have been included in the ARWC preparations.

He added that all players would be eligible for the final ARWC 2024 match against Kazakhstan. Part of the strategy has been building depth but also attracting more people to rugby as they are seeing young talented players coming through the systems.

Earlier in 2024, the women went on a camp to Canberra to spend time at the world-class facilities at the Brumbies. “It was a great week and we've created even more depth within that group. We had a few injuries and some experienced players could not travel that time but it did help us build up the depth. I thought the team did unbelievably well against the Brumbies,” said Douglas.


The Hong Kong China Women’s squad have also recently returned from Japan, after a preparation camp in Fukuoka (13-16 May) which served as final preparation for the Asia Rugby Women’s Championship.

 

ARWC 2024 Opposition – Japan and Kazakhstan

Of the opposition teams in the ARWC, there are no illusions that Japan will be the favourites heading into the tournament and they will be aiming to defend their title and take the lead for the most number of Championship titles won, surpassing Kazakhstan if they are successful.

Hong Kong China has not played Japan since the Rugby World Cup in 2017, and the Japanese have gone on to play the most recent Rugby World Cup in New Zealand as well as the WXV 2 last year.


It could mean that the Hong Kong China and Kazakhstan clash will be vital on 1 June in this round-robin format.


“Kazakhstan will be big and strong,” added Douglas. “They had a dominant set piece last year and the scrum was huge, with big players running hard but we'll be better prepared for that. We probably have to be smarter about where we play the game on the field and how we control the tempo of it but also make sure that we're getting the ball away quickly and we're not giving away the easy ball and putting ourselves under pressure by losing territory at the wrong time.”


There is a game-by-game focus, and Douglas added “It would be great to see these players and the ones coming through be excited about potentially playing in the WXV and a possible Rugby World Cup in the future as well. So these are important stages coming up, in terms of our development as a country and for women's rugby. We'll certainly be trying pretty hard, as we have our targets.”

 

Hong Kong China Women XV Recent History

The last time the representative women’s XVs played a test match was six months ago in a one-off fixture versus Colombia in Dubai in October 2023. This followed a Hong Kong China tour of Europe for two test matches in which they beat Sweden but lost to the Netherlands in preparation for the ARWC 2023. 


In the 2023 Asia Rugby Women's Championship, held at the Almaty Sports Training Complex in Kazakhstan, Japan won the championship with a 72–0 final win over Kazakhstan after the hosts reached the final after narrowly beating Hong Kong China 27-23.


Prior to last year's ARWC, Hong Kong China hosted Kazakhstan at home in December 2022 and won the series 2-0 in a tight set of matches.

 

Home Ground Advantage

PY is hopeful of great home support for the Championship. “It has been 7 years since ARWC was hosted in Hong Kong. As a player, we are so excited to play in our home town with lots of support from fans and families. Especially as it is for our road to Rugby World Cup and WXVs. Save your time and come to support us!”


Douglas talked of the privilege and importance of playing at home during the Asia Rugby Women’s Championship and also issued a rallying cry for fans to come and support.


“Hopefully we get a decent ground on June 1 for the two games (men and women) and I'd like to think they're going to be well supported. I'd like to think that some of those who got excited about the Hong Kong Sevens want to show up and give that same support – there will be nothing better than to see that little stadium filled.”


Throughout the Asia Rugby Women’s Championship history, Kazakhstan and Japan have each won five times, and China and Hong Kong China each once.

 

Asia Rugby Women’s Championship 2024

22 May 2024 – Hong Kong China vs Japan

27 May 2024 – Japan vs Kazakhstan

1st June 2024 – Hong Kong China vs Kazakhstan (Doubleheader with the first Men’s Asia Rugby Championship match in Hong Kong). 

 

World Rugby Ranking 

(Correct at the time of publishing)

#11 Japan

#18 Hong Kong China

#19 Kazakhstan

 

How To Watch the Asia Rugby Women's Championship 2024

For fans who cannot attend the matches live, both Hong Kong China Women’s matches will be available live on our YouTube channel.


Information and photo source : Hong Kong China Rugby

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