Varty to face Lions but focused on London

(IRB.COM) Tuesday 7 May 2013
 Varty to face Lions but focused on London
Rowan Varty will face the Lions in Hong Kong, but will he do so as the captain of a core team on the World Series?

Hong Kong Sevens captain Rowan Varty has been named in the Barbarians squad to play the British & Irish Lions this summer.

As part of their tour the Lions will face the Barbarians at the home of the Hong Kong Sevens, the Hong Kong Stadium, on 1 June and have also included the likes of Takudzwa Ngwenya, James Hook and Sergio Parisse.

However, before Varty faces Warren Gatland's side, he will be hoping Hong Kong can qualify as a core team on the 2013/14 HSBC Sevens World Series.

Competing in an eight-team tournament this weekend, the top three sides will join the top 12 sides from this year and head to all nine rounds on the Series, including the Hong Kong Sevens.

"I am so happy [to have made the 22], a little bit surprised although we knew someone from Hong Kong would get the nod and I am delighted it is me," said Varty.

"It is in the future though. London has been the tournament for us. It is the most important of the year, and potentially of our lives to make it on to the Series. It is exciting, but that is next on the calendar.

"It [facing the Lions] will be scary, looking at their squad with the likes of George North, Jamie Roberts, Sam Warburton, and that is just the Welsh ones. But there will be a bit of back up on my side."

Hong Kong qualified for the core team qualifier in London as the Asian champions, which meant they did not need to pre-qualify at the Hong Kong Sevens in March.

Instead they were able to play in main competition where they reached the Bowl final, beating core team sides Argentina and USA on the way and Varty admits they will take heart from that.

Funded sport

However, along with the four teams to have qualified from Hong Kong - Zimbabwe, Tonga, Russia and Georgia - the bottom three ranked core teams after the Glasgow Sevens - Scotland, Portugal and Spain - will be looking to re-qualify.

"It would be huge for us [to qualify]," added Varty.

"A number of the guys in the squad have been together for several years and have been desperate to be on the Series and for more events, so it would mean the world to us.

"A lot of us would have to change jobs, I am a trainee solicitor, but Rugby Sevens recently became a funded sport in Hong Kong so the opportunity is now there for us.

"All the eight teams are capable of beating each other, but it is about who turns up on the day. It is going to be tough, but the three teams that go up will be strong in the core teams next year.

"The guys are excited, very nervous, but we're ready for it."

In last year's qualifier Varty's side were knocked out by Japan in the quarter finals, but this year the captain is looking for his side to give themselves the best chance possible on Sunday.

"Last year we had the quarter final against Japan, our nemesis, and we had done so well before it qualifying as top seeds from the pool.

"But Keith Robertson got sent off, I got injured and it was a bit of train wreck to be honest. We are looking for a bit of revenge on that though, and getting to that semi final and giving ourselves a chance."

London Sevens

Round 9
16-17 May 2015
Venue: Twickenham
City: London
Capacity: 82,000

Pool A
Pool B
Pool C
Pool D
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