English rugby champions Saracens to make Hong Kong debut
The Chartis Cup 2012 will see English Premiership title holders Saracens face a strong Asia Pacific Barbarians team at Hong Kong Stadium on June 9.
- (1888PressRelease) February 13, 2012 - English Premiership champions Saracens will make their debut in Hong Kong this summer when they take on a star-studded Asia Pacific Barbarians team in the Chartis Cup.
Saracens have pledged to bring their strongest available team to face an APBs line-up that will include 2011 Rugby World Cup winner Mils Muliaina.
"We are very much looking forward to the opportunity to play in Hong Kong," said Saracens Chairman Nigel Wray. "Saracens is a club based in north London since 1876, but we are eager to take our squad, with their incredible work ethic, to all corners of the rugby world."
The club's current playing squad contains England stars Owen Farrell, Charlie Hodgson, David Strettle, Matt Stevens, Brad Barritt, Steve Borthwick, Mouritz Botha and Richard Wigglesworth, plus South Africa's 2007 World Cup-winning captain and hooker, John Smit.
Wigglesworth flew into Hong Kong to be present at the launch press conference at the Renaissance Harbour View Hotel Hong Kong, where he was joined by a trio of APBs stars, Orene Ai'i, Stephen Brett and Hale T-Pole.
Other internationals in the Saracens squad include scrumhalf Neil De Kock (South Africa), props Rhys Gill (Wales) and Carlos Nieto (Italy), hooker Schalk Brits (South Africa), lock Hayden Smith (USA), back rower Kelly Brown (Scotland) and backs Chris Wyles (USA), Michael Tagicakibau and Kameli Ratuvou (both Fiji).
Saracens also have in their ranks former England rugby league international Joel Tomkins, who signed from Super League side Wigan last November and scored two tries on his Saracens debut against Worcester recently.
Mark McCall, Saracens' Director of Rugby, added: "Hong Kong represents something special in the rugby world, largely because of the annual Sevens tournament.
"It is a privilege for us to have been invited to play a 15-man match against a strong Asia Pacific Barbarians team and we are very much looking forward to the occasion."
The Chartis Cup, which is supported by the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union, will be played on Saturday, June 9 at Hong Kong Stadium.
Chartis and match organisers have pledged that proceeds from the event will go towards the Royal Project office in Thailand, under the Patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, to renovate schools hit by flooding last year and help students from very poor families with the expense of attending classes.
All Blacks legend Muliaina, now playing in Japan after winning 100 caps for his country, will be joined in the APBs line-up for the Chartis Cup by flying Fijian Sireli Bobo and Samoan brothers Alesana and Henry Tuilagi.
"We are thrilled that a club of the stature of Saracens has agreed to travel to the Far East to play in the Chartis Cup," said match promoter and APBs chairman Jon Phelps.
"Given that they are the English Premiership champions, we will obviously be working hard with Chartis to put together an APBs line-up that can meet the challenge. It promises to be a fantastic game with proceeds going to a worthy cause.
"As well as playing in the Chartis Cup, both teams are keen to reach out to the Hong Kong community and we can promise fans they will be given plenty of chance to meet and mix with these world class players."
Les Mouat, Chairman and Head of Distribution, Chartis Insurance Asia-Pacific, told the press conference that Hong Kong rugby supporters were in for a treat. "Saracens are one of the biggest and most famous clubs in world rugby and they have a playing roster to match their reputation," he said. "Against such powerful opposition, the APBs are putting together a truly exciting squad.
"Of course, while we will enjoy watching these two fantastic teams, we should not lose sight of the charitable element to this match. Chartis companies and their employees worldwide have a long history of giving back to the communities they serve.
"The Chartis Cup will once again be raising money for a worthy cause and I would ask people to support this event and show the generosity of spirit for which Hong Kong's rugby community is famous."
The inaugural Chartis Cup was staged last June at Hong Kong Football Club with ticket sales and donations generating more than US$50,000 for children and families affect by the Japan earthquake and tsunami.
In a highly entertaining game, a World XV captained by Serge Betsen edged out the APBs 50-39.