05 May 2021

The Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) today announced that former Hong Kong Men’s coach and current General Manager of Rugby Performance Andrew Hall will assume the Director of Rugby role at Uppingham School, United Kingdom, in August. 


The ex-Scotland international arrived in 2010 as an HKRU Club Coaching Officer (CCO) for the then Hong Kong Cricket Club - now HKU Sandy Bay - Premiership side. Over four seasons with the club they won the Premiership league and contested three grand championship finals. Following this, Hall worked with Hong Kong’s development players as the Head of Elite Player Development at the HKRU, later helping to establish and manage the Elite Rugby Programme (ERP), which will sunset in June, and serving as Head of Men’s Rugby Performance and Development.  


Looking back on a successful career at the HKRU, Hall feels an abundance of gratitude; “Not many people have an opportunity like this, and I am grateful for every minute. Leigh Jones took a punt on me, bringing me across in 2010, and my time with the HKRU has been amongst the most rewarding of my entire career. I have greatly accelerated my development at the Union and in working with Dai Rees and Leigh over the last five to six years. It has been an incredible experience. 


“The growth opportunities I have been presented with here have been so rewarding, both professionally and personally, having met my wife and had my first child in Hong Kong. I will miss the daily interactions with coaches, players and Union staff, and being immersed in the dynamic and task-challenging environment at the HKRU, but I am going into a similar environment, albeit in a different setting at Uppingham School, which is hugely exciting.

“It is my first formal role in education, although I have wanted to further my interest in the field for a long while and I am delighted to be joining Uppingham this September. I am really looking forward to getting involved in this forward-thinking school, continuing the progression of the rugby programme and working with the pupils to develop their skills. Uppingham offers a dynamic and exciting school life for its pupils, and I can’t wait to get involved. I’m eager to come back to the UK with my family and meet everyone in the Uppingham community.”

Hall, who played for Glasgow Warriors, Newport Gwent Dragons, Moseley and Scotland, has been a member of the Hong Kong coaching staff since 2012, serving as assistant, and eventually interim Head Coach, after Jones’s departure to work with Japan at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.  He led Hong Kong for ten tests in 2014 and 2015 while Jones was in Japan. It was a challenging early tenure for Hall and the squad, starting with an away - 13,000 kilometres to be exact - loss to Uruguay in in Montevideo in Rugby World Cup 2015 qualification. 


That was followed by losses to Russia, Japan and Korea – for an 0-5 start, before a last second away win in Incheon, Korea signalled an impressive turnaround for the side which continues to this day (Hong Kong are presently ranked 22 in the world). 

Hong Kong’s first Asia Rugby Championship titles followed, along with impressive international scalps with away wins in Kenya and the Cook Islands, home victories over Portugal and Zimbabwe, and a second Rugby World Cup repechage appearance in 2018. 


After that campaign fell short at the final hurdle, Hall re-assumed the head coach’s role and also managed the FWD South China Tigers in Global Rapid Rugby. 


“Coaching at international level is an incredible honour, and challenge, and it was certainly a difficult start, but on balance I won more than I lost which is a nice thing to be able to say,” he said.


Hall credited Jones in particular with improving his experience and understanding of high performance coaching.


“Leigh played a pivotal role in my development, especially when he returned from coaching Japan at the World Cup with Eddie Jones and Steve Borthwick. His openness to share that experience and knowledge has had a massive impact on my own development and career.”


With the planned cessation of the Elite Rugby Programme in June, Hall felt it was the right time to utilise his background in and passion for education. He has a post-graduate certification from the University of Sunderland and is scheduled to attain his PhD in High Performance Cultures with Edinburgh Napier University this July.


While not having achieved the end goal of leading Hong Kong to Rugby World Cup 2023, he believes the pieces remain in place, saying, “2023 is still attainable, although the journey has likely got a bit harder with the closure of the ERP and the pandemic. For me, the biggest impact of the past 10 years in Hong Kong rugby was the inception of the ERP, which is something I am hugely proud of having helped set up and manage. 


“The biggest success of the programme was changing behaviours and instilling a professional approach in our elite players. With the reversion to a semi-professional set-up, the onus on the players to exhibit the character of a professional is even greater now. But the pieces at the top are still there, with people like [incoming Hong Kong coach] Craig Hammond and [Head of Athletic Performance] Luke Davey providing the continuity required to keep the momentum going,” said Hall. 


While Hong Kongers may know Uppingham School for its prominent local business alumni like Sir David Li, Johnny Hon and Dickson Poon, Hall is keen to start accumulating gains of his own on Uppingham’s expansive sporting pitches.


“I am looking forward to a new challenge and to see where and how I can add value to my new environment. Setting up the ERP, leading teams to the final stages of Rugby World Cup qualification and completing my PhD makes me confident that I am well prepared to positively impact the Uppingham community and the rugby programme. I can’t wait to get stuck in,” Hall said.