09 Jul 2019

The Hong Kong Men’s Under U20s team is in Sao Paolo, Brazil for its sixth straight appearance at the World Rugby U20 Trophy.  Hong Kong face Tonga, Canada and Portugal in Pool B, and will open the tournament against the three time European qualifiers Portugal – bronze medalists last year, on July 9. 

Hong Kong will then play Tonga on July 13 and Canada on July 17 to complete the pool stage.

This year’s tournament features the return of Japan, absent from the Asian qualifiers for several years after reaching the senior global U20 Championship.  The Japanese, who were relegated after last year’s tier one tournament and won the U20 Trophy most recently in 2017, top Pool A alongside Kenya, Uruguay and the host Brazil.

The winner will once again earn promotion to the senior World Rugby U20 competition in 2020. 

Hong Kong brings one of its deepest ever squads to the junior global challenge with head coach Mark Wright and assistant coaches Stephen Dowse and Andrew Kelly having an experienced cadre to select from. 

Eleven veterans of last year’s campaign in Romania, where Hong Kong achieved its best ever finish of sixth, are returning for another tilt in 2019.

“We managed to pull a very strong group together this year,” said Dowse, “a combination of guys we are tracking overseas and local players who are putting their hands up in Colts and senior rugby.”

With that sprinkling of overseas-based players, integration is a constant challenge for the coaching team, but Dowse believes that this has been effectively addressed this year.

“We have been working together as a group for the past few weeks, but we did well to engage the overseas guys much earlier this year. We set them a lot of challenges, worked with them on fitness targets and individual work-ons, and really got them stuck in early doors. That really stepped up our level of preparation this year.”

The enhanced preparation and veteran cast are things that the coaches hope the team will be able to put to good use.

“Having played for a number of years at this competition, we know what to expect - it is a high level competition that we enter with eyes wide open,” said Dowse.

“Now that we are here again, it is about maximizing the opportunity presented by this tour, both on and off pitch. We don’t want this to be the end of these players’ journeys but a mid point on a longer journey that takes them into Senior and international rugby for Hong Kong,” finished Dowse.

Of course, no one would mind if that journey included a detours to the World Rugby U20 Championship.

Hong Kong 2019 World Rugby U20 Trophy Squad

Paul ALTIER (co- captain), Mikkel CHRISTENSEN, Rory CINNAMOND, Hugo DARKE CHRISTOPHER, Samuel DOWN, Oliver DUFFY, Jonathan HOWELLS, Kyle KITNEY, Joseph KNIGHT, Lucas LACAMP, Pat LAIDLER, Kyle McCALLUM, Nicholas McGRORY, Oliver OVERMAN, William PANDAY, Tiernan NEVILLE, NG Cheuk-wai, Julian ONDERWATER, Henry POON, James RIVERS, Thaddeus SUMMERS, SUNG Wai-shing, Callum TAM, TANG Man-chun, TSANG Jo Lok , Sam TSOI Kin-san (co-captain).