A host of legends and stars, including Dan Parks, Rocky Khan and Bruce Reihana prepare to take to the field for the GFI HKFC Tens Hong Kong
One of the greatest names from rugby’s modern era has spoken and the verdict is the BGC Asia Pacific Dragons are the team to beat at this year’s GFI HKFC Tens.
The world’s biggest Tens tournament gets underway tomorrow at the Hong Kong Football Club, with the first game at 11.25am featuring last year’s champions, the BGC Asia Pacific Dragons.
The teams went through their final preparations today with light training sessions at the Sports Road Stadium.
All Black winger Rico Gear, 37, is among the contingent of star players turning out over the next two days in Hong Kong. The BGC APD are his favourites to once again raise the Bill Burgess Cup on Thursday evening.
“The Dragons, of course, they are quite strong on paper and you know they are here to win it,” says Gear.
The BGC APD, coached by All Black legend Tana Umaga, the side boast a blend of rising talent from New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, including five Fijian players with Sevens Rugby experience; Samoan World Cup playmaker Tusi Pisi, 32, who currently stars for Suntory Sungoliath in Japan and Tongan flanker Nili Latu, who captained his nation at the 2007 World Cup.
Gear, himself a Commonwealth Games gold medal winner in Sevens Rugby in 1998, will play with The Penguins, the fourth-seeded invitational side.
That formidable team includes flanker Todd Clever, 32, a United States captain at two World Cups with 63 Test caps; back Willie Walker, 36, a New Zealand Maori representative with Super 15 and RFU Championship experience; and Auckland Sevens player Ed Fidow, who Gear tipped as one to watch.
“Ed Fidow is a young Auckland boy who has a tonne of pace. He plays Sevens for Auckland and is probably not far off the New Zealand squad. It’s going to be great to see him in action and give him a bit of space and try and keep up with him,” says Gear.
“I’m quite excited to be playing alongside some of these new boys that are starting their careers, and seeing how they go in this tournament, which seems to be getting harder every year,” added Gear.
Tradition YCAC halfback and scrumhalf Rocky Khan has played Sevens for New Zealand and was the first player of Asian ethnicity to play in the black jersey. He could also see the Dragons going back-to-back this year.
“There’s lots of good teams out there, the Asia-Pacific Dragons, Penguins and Samurai. We want to try and do the best we can and, if we play to our potential, I think we can go all the way, but there’s a lot of competitive teams out there.” says Khan, 25.
Spanish Test player Oriol Ripol, 39, will play for 10th-ranked Hexagon Stockholm Exiles – a team with more than a few surprises in store.
“We are aiming to be competitive and to try have a good two days,” Ripol said after yesterday’s training run. The skill level was amazing.
Troy Flavell’s input was incredible and we’re ready for the tournament.”
Capped 22 times for the All Blacks, Flavell, 38, is looking forward “to come to an event like this and chuck the boots on”. The Exiles will be coached by All Black playmaker Bruce Reihana, 38, a familiar name to British rugby enthusiasts for his 238 caps with Northampton.
“It’s my first time in Hong Kong and there are a lot of good teams here, but we’re not too fussed about that. We’re really interested in having some fun and playing some good rugger,” says Reihana.
Former Scottish International Dan Parks is another rugby heavyweight to join the roll call of internationals at the GFI HKFC Tens, playing for Hong Kong-based Taikoo Place Scottish Exiles, alongside Fijian legend Seru Rabeni.
“I haven’t done much preparation myself but hopefully we will do a bit before the games and get in to the flow of playing a few games. Fingers crossed, we’ll go well,” says Parks.
Sixteen teams will compete in four round-robin pools on Day One of the GFI HKFC Tens before progressing into the Cup, Plate, Bowl, and Shield competitions on Day Two. As well as attracting past and present stars of rugby, fans will also be able to catch a glimpse of future greats with many young up-and-coming players now using the GFI HKFC Tens as a high-quality tournament to showcase their rugby skills.
For the first time, every match of the GFI HKFC Tens will be streamed live on the internet. Fans from across the world can long onto YouTube to watch the world’s best tens tournament: https://www.youtube.com/watch?