Smit braced for tough Chartis Cup encounter
Hong Kong, 7 June 2012 - Saracens star John Smit says the quality of opposition in Saturday’s Chartis Cup clash in Hong Kong will mean a “pretty intense” game of rugby.
The English Premiership giants will take on a BGC APBs invitational team packed with World Cup aces, Super Rugby veterans and proven winners.
“The opposition is tougher than we would normally have expected for an off-season game, but that’s good, because if people come to an event like this they want to see two top teams playing each other,” said Smit.
“The side that the BGC APBs have put together is very good, so it’s two big teams going head to head and we’ll see a good game. Certainly, it will be a serious encounter.
“Everyone realises it is going to be pretty intense, you can see that from the level of players on both sides. For the younger guys in our team, when they go out there and see the likes of Mils Muliaina lining up against them, they’ll realise this is no festival, it’s a proper game of rugby.”
Saracens will take on the BGC APBs in the Chartis Cup at 6:00pm this Saturday (9 June) at Hong Kong Stadium.
Apart from Muliaina – 100 caps for New Zealand and a World Cup winner last year – the BGC APBs have four other All Blacks in Jerry Collins, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Rico Gear and Troy Flavell.
Their other big names include Welsh heroes Shane Williams and Martyn Williams, England No.8 Nick Easter, Samoa centre Seilala Mapusua and former Japan captain Takuro Miuchi.
Smit – the 2007 World Cup-winning Springboks captain – will be part of a powerful Saracens team that includes three England internationals in club captain Steve Borthwick, Richard Wigglesworth and Hugh Vyvyan.
Saracens – who are making their first competitive appearance in Asia – will be hoping for better luck in Saturday’s charity game than on their first night in Hong Kong when they attended the famous Happy Valley races.
“Five or six of us clubbed together HK$100 each and put it all on the hot tip in the third race,” revealed Smit. “And guess what? Nothing! So the message is, horse racing still doesn’t pay!”
Smit, 34, retired from international rugby following last year’s World Cup as the most-capped player in South Africa’s history with 111 appearances, including 64 as captain.
He then relocated to England to play for Saracens and has relished the experience. “It’s been good fun, the last eight or nine months have been really enjoyable,” he said. “What helps is that they’re a good bunch of lads and the team has done well. My wife and I have two young kids and they’ve settled in well so, hopefully, we’ll be staying for a while longer.”
The Chartis Cup will be the centrepiece of a day-long rugby festival at Hong Kong Stadium and nearby So Kon Po Recreation Ground that will feature minis and veterans tournaments plus a family-friendly Rugby Village for which admission is free.
Tickets for the Chartis Cup - priced $300 for adults and $50 for children - can be purchased online at www.hkticketing.com or by calling the HK Ticketing hotline on 31288288. Fans can also buy in person from HK Ticketing’s box offices and Tom Lee Music stores. More information can be found at www.chartiscup.com.
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Formed in 2010, the APBs are designed to showcase the vast array of rugby talent in Asia Pacific, with the occasional invited player from outside the region. Each squad typically contains household names and Rugby World Cup stars mixed with up-and-coming players from the emerging rugby nations, all infused with a commitment to demonstrate a true spirit of playing entertaining rugby. Off the field, the APBs are sociable, approachable and accessible to fans, and promote the game to players of all ages and abilities through coaching clinics and interaction with the rugby community. Crucially, the APBs carry a strong sense of social responsibility, seeking to ensure that their high profile and wide corporate connections allow various charities benefit from their activities.
Formed in 1876, Saracens are the 2011 English Premiership champions. In March 2012, they played a home game at Wembley stadium, attracting a world record club rugby crowd of 83,761 fans.
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Released on behalf of the Chartis Cup 2012 by Two Up Front – Asia’s sports PR specialists.