24 Nov 2019

Hong Kong turned in a clinical performance to beat Philippines 26-0 in the cup semi-final at the Asian Olympic sevens qualifier in Incheon, South Korea. The win puts Hong Kong through to the final against the hosts, South Korea, who won an extra-time arm wrestle with China 12-7 to advance in the other bracket.

Hong Kong is now 14 minutes from booking a place at next summer’s Olympics in Tokyo, but will have another mountain to climb against the host Koreans.

Hong Kong faced a few obstacles in the semi-final, including the onset of a cold Korean rain this afternoon and another highly physical challenger in the Philippines.

With Hong Kong’s speed taken out of the game by the conditions, the match became a bit of a slog and Hong Kong coach Paul John was pleased with the way his side stepped up for the challenge.

“It became a bit of a dogfight and we know that teams in Asia want to play us that way. I thought the boys were excellent in that match, they really controlled the game well, and we can respond to any physicality because we are physical as well.”

Hong Kong will now play South Korea at 16.30 (Hong Kong time) in the final.

“The conditions are a bit of a leveller and we have exactly the same challenge against Korea as we had against the Philippines. Korea are a very physical team. I think a lot of people are surprised that they reached the final, but we are not because we know exactly what they are like,” said John.

He doesn’t believe he needs to motivate his team any further ahead of the final.

“Every player in that locker room knows what is on it, [the final], so I don’t need to say anything. If the boys play like they can, apply themselves like they can, and express themselves like I know they can, the result will follow,” John added.

Playmaker Jamie Hood, a veteran of Hong Kong’s previous Olympic qualification campaign in 2015 says Hong Kong needs another complete performance in the final.

“Same again, really. Korea have some big lumps and they carry hard, but they also have good steppers and threats across the pitch. We have to maintain our structures and defensive sets, keep working hard for each other and hopefully we will get the result,” said Hood.

“Four years ago, we were close to this moment, up 10-0 on Japan at half-time, but it got away from us. Things have changed now. We are more prepared and have more players. You would be surprised, the young boys have some experienced heads on their shoulders and have played in big games before, so hopefully we can put it all together out there in the final,” he added.

The final will be at 16.30 Hong Kong time and can be watched via the tournament live-stream at https://www.facebook.com/hkrugby.

Should Hong Kong bring home the trophy from Incheon it will qualify for the first ever Olympics in Hong Kong Rugby Union history, and be just the second Hong Kong team to qualify for a team sport event at a Games since Hockey in 1964.

HKRU Men’s Sevens Squad; 2020 Olympic Qualifiers, Incheon, South Korea (23-24 Nov. 2019):

Max WOODWARD (Captain); Max DENMARK; Lee JONES; Mike COVERDALE; Liam HERBERT; Cado LEE Ka-to; Salom YIU Kam-shing; Russ WEBB; Alex MCQUEEN; Tom MCQUEEN; Jamie HOOD; Hugo STILES; Ben RIMENE.