Seven magnificent moments from the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens
Whet your appetite as the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series prepares to return to Hong Kong for the first time in more than three years this November.
It has been more than three years since Hong Kong Stadium last staged a HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament.
The good news for fans of the Series is there are now less than five months to wait before the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens is scheduled to return to the calendar.
As the countdown to that tournament continues apace, we take a look through the archives and round up seven memorable matches from the event’s glorious past.
Fiji 5-31 New Zealand, 26 March, 2000
The first ever Hong Kong Sevens final on the Series featured two teams that would come to dominate the circuit over the next two decades.
Fiji, with World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee Waisale Serevi pulling the strings, had booked their place in the showpiece match with a 52-7 defeat of England in the semi-finals.
However, the reigning Rugby World Cup Sevens champions were no match for New Zealand. The All Blacks Sevens, who counted Amasio Raoma, Eric Rush and Mils Muliaina among their ranks, responded to conceding in the first minute by scoring five unanswered tries.
Justin Wilson (twice), Tony Monaghan and Craig De Goldi (twice), each crossed the whitewash to secure New Zealand’s fourth tournament win of the inaugural Series and help them on their way to the overall title.
💥 A true spectacle 🇭🇰— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) December 30, 2020
🍿 We’re reliving the best tries from down the years at the Hong Kong Sevens
Got a favourite? 👇 pic.twitter.com/uaSMibu2vy
New Zealand 17-22 England, 30 March, 2003
The All Blacks Sevens won the first two Hong Kong Sevens to be played on the Series, before England enjoyed a run of three consecutive titles from 2002 to 2004.
England had beaten Fiji, runners-up in each of the first three Series tournaments played at Hong Kong Stadium, in the 2002 final and faced New Zealand the following year.
New Zealand led 12-5 at half-time through tries from Karl Te Nana and Roy Kinikinilau, however, the English hit back in the second half as Simon Amor converted Henry Paul’s try to level the scores.
A brace of unconverted tries from Richard Haughton gave England a 10-point lead with time running out, which meant that Tafai Ioasa’s late score was nothing more than consolation.
Fiji 22-27 Samoa, 1 April, 2007
Although they had won Rugby World Cup Sevens 2005 at Hong Kong Stadium, Fiji were still looking for their first title at the event on the Series when they qualified for a fifth final in seven attempts in 2007.
They had edged past arch rivals New Zealand in the semi-finals, 21-12, to set up a decider against Samoa, who had beaten South Africa in the last four.
In the final, Samoa stunned Fiji as Mikaele Pesamino scored three of his side’s five first-half tries to give them a 27-0 lead at the break.
Fiji responded in the second half and as the humidity increased at Hong Kong Stadium, Emosi Vucago, William Ryder, Setefano Cakau and Simione Saravanua all crossed the whitewash.
Incredibly, there was still time for the Fijians to push for a potentially match-winning try but Samoa stood firm to claim a famous victory.
South Africa 24-26 Fiji, 29 March, 2009
Fiji were hoping it would be sixth time lucky on the Series in Hong Kong as they took on South Africa in the 2009 final.
They had enjoyed a perfect weekend up until that point and built a 19-0 lead with time running out in the first half as Vucago touched down either side of a Osea Kolinisau try.
There was still time for South Africa to close the gap, though, and after Rob Ebersohn scored under the posts with the final play of the half, the score was 19-12 at the break.
Seremaia Burotu crossed early in the second half to restore his side’s two-score lead and although the Blitzboks breached the Fijian defence twice more, it proved enough to secure Fiji the crown.
Samoa 24-21 New Zealand, 28 March, 2010
New Zealand had edged a nine-try classic against Fiji to book their place in the 2010 Hong Kong Sevens final, Kurt Baker crossing the whitewash four times.
Samoa hadn’t had things much easier in the last four, Lolo Lui’s four conversions proving decisive as they beat England 28-24.
It was the All Blacks Sevens who began strongest in the final as Baker continued his scoring streak with two tries in the opening three minutes.
That gave New Zealand a 14-0 lead, but Samoa began to take control of the contest at the end of the first half as Simaika Mikaele crossed twice to reduce the arrears to two points.
Mikaele Pesamino then grabbed two second-half tries to give Samoa a 10-point lead and ensure that Toby Arnold’s late try did not impact on the result.
Wales 19-26 Fiji, 24 March, 2013
Wales had never reached a tournament final on the Series ahead of the 2013 Hong Kong Sevens but they put that right over three days in March.
Their run to the final began with a rollercoaster opening win over Australia and included a 19-0 defeat of Kenya in the semi-finals.
Wales took that form into the showpiece match, where tries from Cory Allen (two) and Alex Webber gave them another 19-0 lead, against Fiji.
A first Series tournament win looked to be within their grasp but Fiji, who had Ilai Tinai sin-binned in the opening half, stormed back after the break.
Kolinisau scored three of the Fijians’ second-half tries to clinch a memorable 26-19 win and a second successive tournament triumph in Hong Kong.
France 14-12 New Zealand, 7 April, 2019
The quarter-final draw at the most recent Hong Kong Sevens did not appear to have been kind on France.
It pitched them, having emerged unbeaten from Pool B, against New Zealand, a team they had never before beaten in Hong Kong.
History looked as though it may well repeat in 2019 as the All Blacks Sevens scored the opening try of the match, when Baker touched down.
France recovered well, though, and went into the break 14-5 in front as Stephen Parez converted tries from Tavite Veredamu and Gabin Villiere. Midway through the second half, Andrew Knewstubb converted his own score to set up a thrilling finale, in which France just about held on to record an historic victory.
The French made it all the way to the final three years ago, where they lost to Fiji who became the first team to win five Hong Kong Sevens titles in a row.