Hong Kong China men hope to take Montevideo form into Munich

Hong Kong China head to Germany for the final round of the World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger 2024, on 18-19 May, aiming to qualify for the HSBC SVNS 2025 Play-off tournament in Madrid a fortnight later.

Having been eliminated by Germany in the quarter-finals of the first men’s World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger 2024 tournament in Dubai in January, Hong Kong China began their bid to make the top four firmly on the back foot.

However, reaching the final in the second tournament in Montevideo in March has put them right back in the mix for a place in the HSBC SVNS 2025 Play-off tournament in Madrid in a fortnight’s time.

On the eve of the third and final Challenger Series 2024 tournament in Munich this weekend, Jevon Groves’ team occupy the fourth and last qualifying spot behind Uruguay, Kenya and Chile but with only points difference keeping them above tournament hosts Germany.

“To have given ourselves an opportunity, particularly after a poor Dubai leg, is great,” said coach Groves, a former Wales sevens international, who competed at the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games.

“I thought the boys really played some great stuff in Uruguay to get to the final and put us into the position to make top four.

“But obviously we have to go to Germany and do as well again which is going to be tough because the top three look as if they are going to be there or thereabouts and Germany are hosting the tournament, and the hosts traditionally do well.

“But we have got consistency in our selection, we have got everyone fit, which gives us a chance to be competitive in our training.

“We have had the Hong Kong Sevens as well to give the boys some game time. Like I said, it’s going to be a tough ask to get into that top four but I am confident the boys can do it.”


The top four teams in the Challenger will join the bottom four teams in HSBC SVNS 2024 – USA, Spain, Samoa and Canada – in Madrid to compete for the four available places in SVNS 2025.

Under Groves, Hong Kong China have won gold at the Asian Games and in the Asia Rugby Sevens Series but qualifying for the Play-off tournament in Madrid, and then achieving promotion, would top anything that has been done before.

Hong Kong China have previously been invited to participate in world series tournaments – on home soil and in Canada in 2021 in the first throes of Groves’ reign in charge – but never as a core team. The closest they came before is when they were runners-up to Asian rivals Japan in the inaugural Challenger Series in 2020.

Groves says having the opportunity to play against the best teams regularly would be brilliant for the players’ development.

“We have always tried to play and compete with the best but we have had limited opportunities to do that,” he explained.

“We were invited to Canada and we had some decent wins against world series opposition, beating Ireland in our last game in Edmonton which was pretty cool, and we were invited to Hong Kong.

“There are guys who have played eight or nine years for Hong Kong China but have only played in a handful of world series tournaments.

“Getting up and trying to compete with the tier one teams would only improve us as coaches, players and as an organisation.

“It would mean a lot to the players because they have had lots of attempts to get there (finishing fifth and sixth in the last two Challenger series) and lots of disappointment in missing out.”

The Welshman believes preparation is key, highlighting how the build-up to their much-improved performance in Montevideo contrasted with Dubai.

“We played a lot of competitions last year, probably the most we have done,” he said.

“In terms of passport holders who are eligible to play in an Olympic qualifier and in the Asian Games, they probably played 10-12 tournaments that season, so we had to give them the Christmas period off, two-plus weeks, which meant returning on a 12-day preparation for Dubai.

“We knew we were going to go in under-prepared but it was necessary to give the players a break, physically and mentally.

“The preparation was really good going into Uruguay, we spent lots of time together and had a few camps and we were very lucky with injuries, which is a testament to the S&C staff.”


Hong Kong China are in Pool B in Munich with Tonga, Uganda and Mexico. All three opponents are outside of the top four with Mexico propping up the standings.

With 10 points between the top two teams, Uruguay and Kenya, and another six between Chile and fourth place, it appears to be a straight shootout between Hong Kong China and Germany for the remaining place. Tonga, in sixth, have eight points to make up.

Groves is hoping to hit the ground running but isn’t taking anything for granted in Munich.

“We have got to look after our pool first which is not going to be easy; only last year Tonga beat us and Uganda have caused us problems in the past,” he said.

“It is just about focusing on that first game and trying to generate some momentum through a good performance against Mexico first up, so all our energies are going into that.

“I felt we got some good momentum from the first game in Uruguay, where we played really well against Japan, and that really helped us in the tougher games, it gave us a lot of confidence.

“We are really focused on getting that first performance right and starting the tournament well.”

Challenger 2024 leaders Uruguay have Germany, Georgia and Papua New Guinea with them in Pool A, while Kenya, who welcome back star winger Patrick Odongo from injury, are joined in Pool C by Chile, Portugal and former world series core team, Japan.