Largest ever field heads to Hong Kong for the Tens

Largest ever field heads to Hong Kong for the Tens

Twenty-four teams from Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia and New Zealand will take part in the 2011 GFI HKFC Tens. This year’s tournament field was expanded from 16 to 24 teams to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the Hong Kong Football Club. For the first time in the 26-year history of the tournament, match action will be televised live on NOW TV.

Twenty-four teams from Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia and New Zealand will take part in the 2011 GFI HKFC Tens. This year’s tournament field was expanded from 16 to 24 teams to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the Hong Kong Football Club. For the first time in the 26-year history of the tournament, match action will be televised live on NOW TV.

The official team draw for the GFI HKFC Tens 2011 was held on March 8 2011 at the Hong Kong Football Club. In the absence of defending Cup champion Aliens, last year’s beaten finalists Samurai International RFC are back for a fifth crack at the GFI HKFC Tens title which has so far eluded the globe-trotting invitational side.

Despite the Aliens absence, 2011 will not be an easy ride for Samurai RFC with both the Pakuranga Pythons from New Zealand and the HKFC President’s X representing testing Pool A opponents. The Pakuranga Pythons began their international career with a creditable runners-up finish in the Cup at the Bangkok Tens last year.

With the new 24-team format raising the bar in terms of competition from all corners of the globe, the task facing tournament second-seeds and perennial powerhouses HSBC Penguins in Pool H is not much easier as they are pooled alongside the HKRFU Chairman’s X and Playmore Devils Advocate Invitational. Similarly to Samurai, the GFI HKFC Tens represents the only tournament that has so far eluded the globe-trotting Penguins, who will again call on former Scotland coach Frank Hadden as they look to go one better than their runner-up finishes in 2007 and 2008.

Playing in their debut tournament, Asia Pacific Barbarians coach and Australia Wallaby legend David Campese can call on an all-star cast from across Asia Pacific that includes current and past international captains, World Cup winners and exciting new talent. Australia’s George Gregan and former New Zealand All Blacks Justin Marshall, Christian Cullen and Rico Gear need no introduction, while Apolosi Satala and Viliame Satala are no strangers to Hong Kong after helping Fiji win the 2005 Sevens World Cup. Other Asia Pacific Barbarians include Timur Mashurov, the current captain of Kazakhstan at both 15s and Sevens, and Japan’s Takuro Miuchi and Samoa’s Semo Sititi who have both captained their countries.

It is a great squad we have managed to pull together,” said Campese, who amassed 101 caps for the Wallabies. “A good blend of experience and youth combined with natural attacking instincts will hopefully give us the opportunity to entertain but also be competitive in what is going to be a tough competition for us.”

Asian Pacific Barbarians Club President and former New Zealand captain Sean Fitzpatrick will provide a watchful eye over the sixth seed Barbarians in their Pool F meetings against tournament debutants Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team and the Pakuranga Pythons second side. Lloyd McDermott is an Australian youth team which supports aboriginal youth through sport. Wallaby legends Glenn, Gary and Mark Ella are the Managers of the Lloyd McDermott ten.

Third seeded New Zealand Legends line-up in Pool E alongside South Africa’s Scatterlings and Chinese Agricultural University, with last year’s Plate winners Borneo Eagles facing the Hill & Associates Hong Kong Barbarians and the PLA Securitas in Pool D.

Recently crowned HKRFU Domestic League champions Newedge Club provide the opposition for seventh-seeded French raiders KIR Club Pyrenees in Pool G, alongside the Wild Titans from Germany. Seven of the Wild Titans were part of the Germany team that beat Hong Kong’s 15-a-side national team 34-13 in December.

Fifth seeds Niue Wanderers, hailing from an island in the South Pacific commonly known as the “Rock of Polynesia,” top Pool C alongside Australian Country Invitational and Champion Systems Overseas Old Boys.

Hong Kong’s Tradition Valley head up Pool B alongside defending GFI HKFC Tens Shield champions Irish Vikings and the Devil’s Advocate Wanchai Wanderers. The Vikings’ roster includes Henry Paul – a regular member of the England Sevens squad in the early 2000′s, a NZ rugby league legend, ex-England international and now the backs coach of Russia who will be playing in their first Rugby World Cup later this year.

The HK Chairman’s X is made up of Hong Kong internationals looking to earn a place in the HSBC Asian 5 Nations and are coached by members of the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union National Coaching team including Brian Higgins, Assistant Coach of the Hong Kong National 15’s Team.

For the first time in the 26-year history of the event, the 2011 GFI HKFC Tens will be televised LIVE on terrestrial television with local broadcaster NOW TV. The Tens will feature live coverage on NOW TV channel 634 for six hours on Thursday, March 24.