• After a three-year hiatus, annual event is back with an expanded remit that includes a women’s tournament and new title sponsor

  • ‘It’s been missed,’ chairman Paul Christopher says – ‘It’s perfect timing. Hong Kong is reopening and we’re welcoming people back’

It’s been three more than years in the making, but the Hong Kong Football Club’s 10s rugby tournament will return in March as a curtain-raiser for the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, with a new women’s tournament taking centre stage.

First played in 1986, the event will spring back to life over two days from March 29 to 30 at the Hong Kong Football Club, with a new title sponsor and expanded format.

Paul Christopher, chairman of the Tradition HKFC 10s, said the inclusion of a women’s competition was a testament to the growth of the game.

“This is a very big and exciting new addition to the 10s,” Christopher said. “Women’s rugby has gone from strength to strength in the last few years and we’re hoping to play a part in supporting that growth.”

Samurai International (blue) faced Biarritz Gavekal during HKFC 10s in 2019. Photo: Clique Visuals

Initially launched to celebrate Hong Kong Football Club’s centenary, the HKFC 10s has grown into one of the top 10s tournaments in the world, thanks to star power from All Blacks legends Conrad Smith, Jerome Kaino and Nehe Milner-Skudder, and more than 20 Rugby World Cup winners, including George Gregan, Australia’s most capped international.

Early confirmations of top invitational sides already include 2019 runners-up Samurai International and two-time finalists Tradition YCAC. Home favourites and hosts Hong Kong Football Club, as well as tournament veterans HK Scottish Exiles, Overseas Old Boys, and Shanghai Delta Blues will also compete for top honours.

Additional star players and teams for the 2023 edition will be released over the coming weeks.

“Everyone is ready for this to come back,” Christopher said. “It has been missed and it is the perfect timing. Hong Kong is reopening and we are welcoming people back to the city.

“I think people in general are ready to get out and support events, not just sport, but all events. Seeing rugby week back in full swing, it just adds to the whole momentum of the Sevens.”The 2023 edition marks the 35th year of the HKFC 10s and Christopher said they will be looking to make a splash come March.

“We are very conscious of this and the history of the 10s. It’s been three years since the last tournament, so we want to make sure we live up to expectations and in some ways go above and beyond what has come before,” he said.

A big part of that will be the women’s event, plus a new partnership with global charity group Laureus to raise funds for its Sport for Good programme. Christopher said all funds from ticket sales will go to Laureus with the hope of breaking the HK$250,000 mark achieved in 2019.

The future of the event looks likely to stretch into 2026 thanks to a three-year deal with brokerage firm Tradition. Other sponsors include investment bank Natixis, insurers AIA and Allied World, and law firm Mourant.

“We’ve been under the radar, getting all of our ducks lined up behind the scenes, but we’re ready to go loud,” Christopher said.

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