Former Fiji coach Ben Ryan said the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens was the top tournament in the World Sevens series can cannot be compared to Vancouver or Singapore.
It is an open secret that the Hong Kong Sevens is the closest to Fijian hearts in terms of importance. And Ryan claimed the 44-year-old tournament is the soul of the world sevens and the one every player dreams of being a part of.
“When you talk about Hong Kong, it kind of doesn’t have a score,” he told the South China Morning Post. “It is immeasurable. And therefore the ranking is not important. [Hong Kong] is the soul of sevens and the tournament everyone looks forward to.
“If you ask any single player in the World Series, name one tournament … you’re only going to get selected for one tournament all year, which one? Every single one of them will, I’m sure, all say Hong Kong.”
The Hong Kong events, from April 5-7 this year, was ranked fifth in a 2018 evaluation by World Rugby. Fierce rival Singapore achieved an enviable second place only behind Vancouver in the ranking.
However, World Rugby said the assessments were meant to be used in-house and were by no means official. The ranking is, however, a means to determine which tournament needs improvement and the Hong Kong Sevens fell short in terms of support services because of a lack of a training stadium.
Hong Kong’s shortcoming however is expected to come to an end by 2023 with the completion of a new stadium at Kai Tak Sports Park.
Ryan expects Hong Kong to keep improving as other tournaments continue to progress rapidly.
“No one should rest on their laurels and Hong Kong should look to improve and make it better,” he said. “But they have got the blue riband event and that’s not going to change.”
The Kai Tak sports will provide new facilities such as a training stadium and should help cement Hong Kong’s status as the most popular event on the circuit.
Ryan achieved a lot of success with Fiji Sevens, leading them to World Series titles and the gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Main photo credit: World Rugby