HKRU WOMEN’S PREMIERSHIP KICKS OFF FIRST SUPER SERIES

Natixis HKFC v Societe Generale Valley top tie in Men’s Round 5

30 Oct 2015

Saturday marks the inaugural Super Series competition in the HKRU Women’s Premiership at 10.30 at Kings Park, while league leaders Societe Generale Valley take on Natixis Hong Kong Football Club (18.00, HKFC) – reprising one of Hong Kong Rugby’s historic rivalries – in the match of the week.

In other action, second-place Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers face Leighton Asia Hong Kong Cricket Club at Kings Park (18.00) and Bloomberg Hong Kong Scottish take on Sabre Kowloon at Shek Kip Mei (16.30).

This weekend marks the first matches in the new HKRU Women’s Super Series. The Series has been launched this season to provide an opportunity for performance players to compete in a domestic representative 15-a-side competition. The aim is to bridge the gap between Club and International rugby and to identify performance players for the future.

The Super Series sees the top 66 players from the Premiership clubs grouped into three representative sides. The sides will play each other on three weekends during the season.Each Premiership club coach is able to nominate six players for the competition; nominated players do not have to be qualified to play for Hong Kong and can still participate if they have played representative rugby in other countries. Each player will be assigned to one of the teams for the duration of the competition.

With performance top of mind, the teams will be coached by the HKRU Women’s Performance coaching team. This weekend’s Series kick-off features the Scorpions, coached by Chris Garvey, Hong Kong’s Assistant National Women’s XVs coach and the Vipers, coached by Hong Kong Rugby Union National Performance Coach (Development), Lai Yiu Pang. The third Super Series side will be coached by Hong Kong Women’s Sevens coach and former New Zealand Black Fern Anna Richards and Valley stalwart Dean Herewini.

The Scorpions and Vipers feature an assembly of top Hong Kong Women’s Rugby players including captain Colleen Tjosvold and vice captain Martini Ip for the Vipers, who also boast Adrienne Garvey and Hong Kong U20s captain Aileen Ryan, part of eight Hong Kong XVs caps in the squad.

Chow Mei Nam and Rebecca Thompson are the captain and vice captain of the Scorpions respectively, with Karen So and Melody Li strengthening the squad which features seven Hong Kong XVs players.

In the men’s competition, a furious fifth round awaits as league leaders Societe Generale Valley, the last remaining undefeated team in the Premiership, cross the valley to take on Natixis HKFC at Sports Road.

Despite having a perfect record, Valley coach Jack Isaac expects more from his charges, particularly after an uninspired win over Sabre Kowloon last weekend, 11-6.“I was disappointed in our performance quite honestly,” said Isaac. “We need to be switched on each week and to put in a performance like that and come away with the win over Kowloon was fortunate really. We spoke as a team and the players spoke amongst themselves, so we’ll see how they react this weekend in what will be a very tough game.”

“Football Club is improving. They lost pretty heavily to Scottish two weeks ago, but bounced back to beat HKCC. They will come in with some confidence after that. Things are looking positive for them at the moment so we need to show up ready to play. Hopefully we can rectify the problems from last week,” Isaac added.

Despite Valley remaining a work in progress, the defending grand champions are unbeaten after four rounds, which is considerable solace for Isaac:

“That’s what counts at the end of the day and it’s a much better start than we got off to last year, so that’s positive. But we are an experienced side and I think in some cases we are winning off of that experience and those little individual jewels from the players. That’s not sustainable so we need to come together as a collective. We are a bit too individual at the moment.”

Valley will visit HKFC this week short of Hong Kong prop Leon Wei Hon Sum who was injured against Kowloon. That absence could be felt as Hong Kong Football Club have welcomed on board tight-head prop Andrew Tiedemann, who arrives late at Sports Road as he was playing for Canada at the Rugby World Cup.

The 26-year old Tiedemann has been a fixture in the Canadian pack since 2009. He has also played in the French Pro D2 competition for Auch, making 16 appearances and was most recently playing for Plymouth Albion, in the second tier of England’s professional competition in 2014/15.HKFC also welcome another individual returning from Rugby World Cup duties in new coach Phil Bailey, who served on the coaching staff of the USA Eagles at the world championship.

A rugby league star in his native Australia, Bailey featured in over 100 games for the Cronulla Sharks and Wigan Warriors in England. He has been capped for Australia and has played State of Origin rugby in Australia.Bailey observed last weekend’s matches and is now assuming the reins going forward but despite the short timeframes, HKFC Director of Rugby Will Thomas believes that he will have his charges ready for Valley.Football Club is on the upswing after beating Hong Kong Cricket Club last week in Aberdeen.

“Having Phil on board last week after returning from his international commitments made a big difference. The players raised their game and responded well to him. Obviously it’s early days, but it is looking good so far.”

“Although we won last week, the score didn’t reflect our dominance, especially in the second half. We didn’t take all of the chances we made. We have already seen the kind of difference that Andrew [Tiedemann] can make for us. He had a big impact against HKCC, who have arguably the strongest scrum in the league,” said Thomas.


Valley’s forwards would certainly dispute Thomas’s assertion about whose pack is best and they will have the opportunity to advance their case on Saturday.

“Valley will be a massive test. When we played them pre-season it was close but they were clearly the better side. They are very physical with a strong front five. We didn’t back down from them then, so that is a positive. Their scrum was dominant in the warm-up but we’ve improved a lot since then.

“I know that they haven’t been as fluid as they would like yet. So if we put pressure on their defence we will definitely have a shout in this match,” added Thomas.

Second-placed Tigers also have a stiff test on their hands versus HKCC but enter the round on a high having won three of their last four. “We want to use our momentum in our favour. We’re over the hump of being underdogs and now we need to adapt and make our status as favourites going into games a positive.

“We’ve still got a lot of improvement in us, especially in how we control the game. Cricket Club are a good side, they have good players and we expect them to rebound at some point. They’re not going to stay near the bottom of the table for long, but we’ll try and make sure that their climb back doesn’t start this week,” said coach Craig Stewart.

HKCC meanwhile enter with more injury concerns in the front row after talismanic captain Ben Roberts remains limited. Coach Deacon Manu was again ruing missed opportunities in last week’s loss to Football Club, “We had lots of opportunities that we didn’t convert. That has been one of the focuses for us this week in reflecting on where we need to do better.

The challenge doesn’t get easier with HKCC travelling to face resurgent Tigers. “They are a good side,” said Manu. “They are very strong in their set plays and have a very reliable goal-kicker. We can’t concede penalties without suffering. So we need to get everything right and that starts with fixing the areas where we have been underperforming.”

A week after earning their first points on the table, Sabre Kowloon will face third-ranked Bloomberg Hong Kong Scottish at the Rock in Shek Kip Mei.

HKRU Women’s Premiership Super Series Squads:

Scorpions:

1. Shonagh RYAN, 2. SO Karen Hoi Ting, 3. LAU Nga Wun, 4. Melody LI, 5. CHENG Ching To, 6. Bobby WILSON, 7. LO Wai Yan, 8. CHOW Mei Nam ©, 9. LAU Tsz Ying, 10. CHEUNG Lok Tung, 11. CHAN Stephanie Chor Ki, 12. Rebecca THOMPSON (VC), 13. CHAU Hei Tung, 14. Tina CHIU, 15. LEE For Wing, 16. PONG Shun Sze, 17. LAI Ming Yan, 18. LAM Ka Wai, 19. TSANG Sharon Shin Yuen, 20. LI Man Yi, 21. HAU Kwan Yi.

Vipers:

1. YIP ho Kwan, 2. SIU Wing Ni, 3. LEE Ka Shun, 4 CHAN Ka Yan, 5. AU YEUNG Tsz Lam, 6. CHEUNG Shuk Han, 7. LEUNG Wing Yi Vincci, 8. Martini IP (VC), 9. CHAN Wing Yi, 10. Aileen RYAN, 11. TSANG Wing Chi, 12. Colleen TJOSVOLD ©, 13. Laurel FUNG Chor Lik, 14. LAU Sze Wa, 15. Adrienne GARVEY, 16. Megan RICHARDSON, 17. LEUNG Hei Nga, 18 LI Lei Man, 19. Daisy MYERS, 20. PUN Wai Yan, 21. Emma SHIELDS.

SUBSCRIBE TO

OUR NEWSLETTER