HONG KONG BOYS REPEAT AS ASIAN U20 SEVENS CHAMPIONS, GIRLS FINISH THIRD IN INAUGURAL SERIES

23 Aug 2015


The Hong Kong National Boys U20 Sevens team has defended its title as Asia Rugby U20s Sevens champions after beating Malaysia 52-7 in the cup final this afternoon at King's Park.

In similar fashion to last year's effort, Hong Kong swept both tournaments on the 2015 series without losing a match. The feat is even more impressive considering that this year's Series was played on consecutive weekends adding a new physical dimension to Hong Kong's successful title defence after last year's tournaments were played several months apart.

The Girls U20 squad also concluded a highly successful debut season, capturing third place in the Hong Kong tournament and second overall for the series. The Girls U20 reached the cup final on their international debut last weekend in Johor Bahru, Malaysia losing to eventual series champions Japan.

Playing to strong home support, the Boys U20 ran rampant on its regional competition as Hong Kong advanced past UAE in the cup quarter final, 41-7, before blanking China in the semi, 22-0. The 52-7 win over Malaysia in the final emphasized Hong Kong's dominance and brought the Boys squad's final point differential to +225 (253 for, 28 against) for the weekend.

James Christie and Timothy Evans provided nearly half of the squad's prodigious scoring and topped all scorers over the weekend. Christie claimed the top scorers spot with 48 points from four tries and 14 conversions. Evans was the top try scorer with eight; two conversions brought his total to 44 points from the weekend. Daniel Archer was the second leading try scorer with seven (35 points).

Delighted Hong Kong U20s captain Richard Lewis said, "It feels amazing. The boys performed really well and we're happy with our performance. We really feel that we deserved to be Asian champions again."

One of the most influential members of the squad in the past two seasons, Lewis will now graduate to senior rugby along with several of his teammates including vice captain Eric Kwok Pak Nga, Calvin Hunter and Hugo Choi Ho Ching. But Lewis is nonplussed about their departure.

"After back to back championships, I think we've left the programme in good hands. The new boys that have come through this year have been amazing. They have tested their mettle this season and I'm looking forward to watching them play on the big stage next year," said Lewis.

HKRU Sevens coach Gareth Baber, acting in a team manager's and talent-spotting role with the U20s over the course of the Series commented on the results:

"Both Hong Kong teams have done a great job over the last few days and last week in Malaysia as well. We're very proud of all of them and as you can see in the final with the Boys winning by a very respectable margin, they worked hard both weekends and now they've got their just desserts."

Mindful that the tournament's purpose is to prepare the players for senior international rugby Baber said, "This is a good tournament and it's great to win in Asia, but we're aware that there are other programmes like Korea and Japan who weren't here and who would be a good contest as well.

"We want to be amongst the best in Asia. If all of our squads are competing with the very best in Asia, then you're getting some way towards competing with the best internationally as well. There is a lot of emphasis on sevens now with the Olympics and we want to be generating the next group of players that can go play in the Olympics."

"There are a couple of this squad who are competing with the senior men's squad at the moment namely Calvin Hunter and Eric Kwok. Richie Lewis has been part of that programme as well, but this is what the purpose of these tournaments are, for us to see how these players perform at the Asian level and there are a few in these squads that with a little bit of development and coaching will be getting into a position to compete with the seniors," Baber added.

After reaching the Cup final on their debut in Johor Bahru, the Hong Kong Girls U20 had a rough outing at home yesterday, losing all three of their matches against Japan, China and Thailand to finish day one as the bottom seed in the tournament. Those results set up a challenging rematch with Japan in this morning's cup semi final, which Hong Kong dropped 40-12. Despite the loss, Hong Kong's two matches against Japan this weekend proved much closer then their previous outings in Malaysia, (both 38 point losses with Hong Kong held scoreless).

This weekend, Hong Kong posted 14 points on the Japanese in pool play (losing 29-14) and 12 in this morning's cup semis - an encouraging sign of the team's ability to rapidly gain ground on Japan, who have been the class of U20s sevens this season.

Routed to the 3rd/4th place play-off after the morning loss, Hong Kong routed Thailand 41-7 to claim third. It was a replay of Malaysia where Hong Kong dropped their match to the Thais in pool play but later edged them out in the cup semi final.

HKRU Girls U20 coach and Women's Development Manager Sam Feausi commented on the squad's performance saying, "We're extremely proud of how the girls played today. They didn't let their heads down after yesterday. They applied what we discussed last night and we saw the results out on the pitch."

"The team has done very well throughout the Series. From the first day they gathered as a training squad they've grown immensely. They have improved dramatically over the two tournaments and even from yesterday to today."

For full results please visit the Asia Rugby website:

Boys U20:
http://asiarugby.com/results-4/age-grade-rugby/2015-ar-u20-sevens-series-men/u20-hong-kong-sevens-men#Results

Girls U20:

http://asiarugby.com/results-4/age-grade-rugby/2015-asia-rugby-under-20-sevens-series-women/u20-hong-kong-sevens-women

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