Tigers ready to roar

Sports | 6 Mar 2019

James Cunningham and Liam Slatem have been named co-captains of the FWD South China Tigers, the first Greater Bay Area professional rugby club that will do battle in Global Rapid Rugby starting this month.

Hong Kong Rugby union chief Robbie McRobbie hailed the new tournament as the "closest form of 15-a-side rugby to the Sevens" because of the emphasis on end-to-end action in 70-minute matches.

Because of its similarities to Sevens, McRobbie is confident that Global Rapid Rugby would be embraced by fans in the SAR and in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Global Rapid Rugby is a challenger and disruptor in international sports that aims to change the way people in the Asia-Pacific view rugby," said Paul Tse, chief marketing officer for club sponsors FWD. "Those traits align with FWD's vision."

Hong Kong coaches Craig Hammond and Andrew Hall will serve as the Tigers' head coach and team manager, respectively. A squad of 45 players has been named for the tournament.

Four international signings, including the UK Premiership's top all-time try scorer Tom Varndell and former World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year and Olympic gold medallist Samisoni Viriviri, have been drafted in to reinforce the squad. Two China players - former sevens and 15s captain Ma Chong and winger Liu Junkui - are also in the team.

In addition to Cunningham and Slatem, other notable Hong Kong players in the squad are fly-half Matt Rosslee, veteran backs Tom and Alex McQueen, Jamie Tsang and center Tyler Spitz.

The Tigers will open their campaign on March 29 in Perth, when they meet the Western Force. Teams from Fiji, Samoa and Singapore will also be competing. The Tigers are at home to Singapore's Dragons on April 21 at Aberdeen Sports Ground. They host the Western Force on May 12.

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