Hong Kong will play Tonga on Saturday 23rd July on Australia’s Sunshine Coast to fight it out for a place in the Rugby World Cup 2023 in France next Autumn. Hong Kong who has never before qualified for a place at the World Cup will have to dig deep to remain competitive when they meet Tonga, who has been a constant contender in the tournament having only failed to compete once in 1991.
Hong Kong who struggled last week in Korea despite their win (23-21) hopes to be better prepared for the match this weekend. Prior to this match, Hong Kong last played an international 15s match in December 2019 and for some players, this will only be their second competitive match in 6 months. The COVID pandemic has also seen the end of the elite player programme and the departure of several coaches which has brought uncertainty to the Hong Kong rugby landscape.
The winner of the upcoming match will have no easy feat in the tournament next year. The win will secure them a place to play in Group B of the competition where they will find themselves in the company of reigning champions South Africa, current world number 1, Ireland, Scotland, and Romania. However, not all is lost for the losing team, who will play in repechage in November in a group with Romania, USA, and Kenya for one last attempt to secure a spot in the World Cup next year.
Header image credits: HK Rugby