21 May 13
The International Rugby Board (IRB) has announced the dates for the HSBC Sevens World Series 2013/14, with another season set to kick off on Australia's Gold Coast and climax in London, England.
Hong Kong's quest for core team status was derailed in the qualifier quarter-finals against Japan after Keith Robertson drew an early red card for a spear tackle and Rowan Varty left the match in the first half after taking a heavy blow.
Despite playing a man down for most of the match, Hong Kong pushed Japan to the limits before the visitors scored in extra-time to end Hong Kong's tournament 10-5.
Coach Rees is intent on maintaining the squad's momentum in Tokyo, Hong Kong's only other HSBC SWS appearance in 2011/12, and will be keen to see how his charges react to last weekend's unlucky exit.
"I am very interested to see how we come off a successful Hong Kong Sevens tournament. It's about our performance ultimately and I think the results, especially on Day 2, will look after themselves.
"We want to put some performances together, particularly on Day 1 against the big teams. We are in a very challenging pool so we are focusing more on our performance rather than outcomes. I will be measuring whether we can stay with teams and compete and put them under pressure and whether we can turn in another complete performance on the circuit on a short turnaround," said Rees.
"We are realistic and know the level that we have to attain to compete against New Zealand, but for us it is about Day 2 of the tournament and getting a few results. We want to bring back a shield or a bit of silverware. That's the goal the boys have set," Rees added.
The squad selected for Tokyo features three changes from that for the Hong Kong Sevens as Tsang Hing Hung, Fan Shun Kei and Jamie Hood come in to the team. Keith Robertson will be sidelined on Day 1 after his red card earned him a three-match ban for Tokyo. Rowan Varty has recovered from his injury against Japan last weekend and will again captain the squad in Tokyo.
Coach Rees commented on the relative disappointment of missing out on Core Team status at the Hong Kong Sevens saying, "The chance for core team status was almost sprung upon us three or four months ago and our goal was to be in the hunt for those top three spots in Hong Kong. I think we achieved that, but for a bit of bad luck in the quarterfinals.
"But it changes nothing in terms of our medium and long term plans. We have always targeted the Rugby World Cup Sevens qualifiers and strong performances on the HSBC Asian Sevens Series events leading into it, and that remains our focus.
Although we are disappointed not to finish in the top three in the qualifiers last weekend I think we have created a few headaches for the IRB and hopefully they will look at our quality and what we are producing in tournaments and we can earn more invites to HSBC Sevens World Series events in future.
"Over the last three years we have beaten some prominent sides in the Hong Kong Sevens and at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai and we just want recognition for this.
"Maybe we will turn a few heads again in Tokyo and hopefully we can get the odd IRB invitation rather than being a core status team. Having a couple of extra tournaments on the series next year would help us to continue to develop our young players as we build up to the Olympics in 2016," concluded Rees.
HKRFU Men's Sevens Squad Match Schedule for Tokyo Sevens
March 31, 2012 (all times are local Tokyo time)
Australia v Hong Kong - 10.22
New Zealand v Hong Kong - 13.35
USA v Hong Kong - 16.35
HKRFU Men's Sevens Squad for Tokyo Sevens
Rowan Varty (captain), DeA
Keith Robertson, DeA
Kwok Ka Chun, DeA
Tsang Hing Hung, DeA
Fan Shun Ke,i DeA
Salom Yiu Kam-Shing, Valley
Lee Jones, Valley
Ross Armour, Valley
Tom McQueen, Valley
Jamie Hood, Valley
Alex McQueen, Hong Kong Cricket Club
Anthony Haynes, Hong Kong Cricket Club