03 Dec 2016

Hong Kong won the inaugural Asia Rugby U18 Girls Sevens Championship in Dubai, beating Kazakhstan 12-5 in a tense final played before large crowds at the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Dubai tournament.

A strong defensive effort and tries from Jessica Eden and Hebe Talles proved the difference in the showcase game; with the cup win capping a pristine performance for the squad, who were undefeated in six games across the six-team, three-day round-robin competition.

The best is yet to come for the group according to coach Sam Feausi, who is also the Women’s Rugby Development Manager at the Hong Kong Rugby Union.

“Most of the players still have time to progress at this level as the majority are just 16 years old,” said Feausi, who noted that six of the 12-woman squad are 16, while only two are 18.

“It is great to get a result in our first international competition at this level and I think this is only the beginning for this group of players. Hopefully, we can keep them training and playing together for a couple more years at U18s level, before they advance through to the National Age Grade U20s and senior rugby,” said Feausi.

Hong Kong dispatched Kazakhstan 22-5 in the first match of the tournament with Feausi identifying the Kazakhs as a likely final opponent.

“Kazakhstan were improving game by game in the tournament, but so were we. They were much stronger come the final but I think we wanted it a bit more at the end of the day,” said Feausi, who hailed her charges’ composure over the weekend.

“We weren’t in awe of the occasion at all, even walking into the stadium in Dubai and into that really charged atmosphere, I could tell the girls were really up for it,” Feausi said.

Hong Kong also beat UAE, 59-0, and Sri Lanka, 22-0, on day one, before gutting out a 5-0 win over India, who were also undefeated on the first day. A final 45-0 win over Uzbekistan in the round-robin competition sent Hong Kong through to the final.

While the silverware was welcome, Feausi is more excited about the impact the win will have on the women’s game in Hong Kong.

“We had an eight-week build-up and that intensive preparation really paid off and is something we will look to replicate going forward. This performance really bodes well for increasing our depth of young players who can push for spots in the junior sevens programme at the HKSI and the Hong Kong fifteens and sevens teams,” Feausi said.

The members of the squad will now transition to fifteen-a-side in preparation for an age grade tour in January, while the highly competitive Sanix schools tournament in Japan next spring presents another opportunity for the sevens squad members.

“We hope to retain the majority of the squad in Hong Kong for the coming years. We will probably lose a few players to schooling overseas, but I expect a lot of the girls to make the transition to U20s level and the senior game.

“This result is really important for women’s rugby in Hong Kong. To win on our first outing in this competition is a huge accomplishment. It is a great idea by Asia Rugby to have a tournament at this level, as only Europe is doing it at the moment. We hope it will become an annual competition as we need more opportunities to test ourselves at this level,” concluded Feausi.

Hong Kong Girls U18 7s

Jamie BOURKE (HKFC), Beatrice BOURRON (SIS/Sandy Bay), Kelsie BOUTTLE (International College Hong Kong/Flying Kukris), CHUI Kam-chi (HKBU/Gai Wu), Clare COEY (Intl College HK/Flying Kukris), Jessica EDEN (Shatin College/Flying Kukris), Maelle PICUT (Renaissance College/Sai Kung), Amy PYLE (KGV/Flying Kukris), SO Yee-kei (Carmel Alison Lam Foundation Secondary School/Kowloon), Lara SCHATS (AIS/Sai Kung), Hebe TALAS (Renaissance College/Sai Kung), WONG Kit-ying (Holy Family Canossian College/Kowloon).