18 Nov 2015

The Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) joins the rugby and sporting world in mourning the passing of rugby legend Jonah Lomu, who died today in New Zealand.

“Jonah Lomu was a great friend to Hong Kong Rugby and a tireless supporter of the Hong Kong Sevens and the Sevens game worldwide,” said Pieter Schats Chairman of the Hong Kong Rugby Union.

“We join the entire rugby world in mourning his passing but also celebrating a life rich in accomplishment, camaraderie and triumph over adversity. Jonah was rugby’s most transformative player and all rugby fans owe him a debt of gratitude.

“We express our sincere condolences to Jonah’s wife Nadene and their two sons and are planning to commemorate Jonah’s life at next year’s Hong Kong Sevens,” Pieter added.

The HKRU will honour Jonah Lomu with a minute’s silence ahead of the Portugal v Zimbabwe and Hong Kong v Russia test matches being played this weekend in Hong Kong as part of the HKRU Cup of Nations. Jonah will also be recognized at Friday’s Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens Long Lunch.

Lomu rose to international fame as a teenager at the Hong Kong Sevens in 1994 giving Hong Kong Sevens fans a privileged opportunity to witness a superstar in the making. He went on to play in Hong Kong on two other occasions, winning on every appearance.

After his retirement from rugby, Lomu returned as a guest of the Hong Kong Rugby Union to the Hong Kong Sevens on several occasions. Those visits were marked by typically unstinting commitments to promote the game in the local community, particularly amongst disadvantaged and at-risk youth, and the development of a close personal friendship with former HKRU Chairman Trevor Gregory.

Lomu last attended the Hong Kong Sevens in 2015, when he was named as one of the members of the Hong Kong Magnificent Seven, the HKRFU’s assembly of the top seven players to have played in the Hong Kong Sevens over the past 40 years.

Lomu came to Hong Kong as an unheralded youngster in 1994 but exited the Sevens on the cusp of stardom. Months later he would be selected as the then youngest-ever All Black at just 19 years and 45 days old, making his debut appearance against France.

The following year he cemented his reputation as rugby’s most unstoppable force by scoring seven tries at the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa. He remains the joint top-try scorer at the Rugby World Cup alongside South Africa’s Bryan Habana.

Lomu would return to the Hong Kong Sevens in 1995 and 1996 to anchor New Zealand to three successive tournament victories and secure himself an abiding place in Hong Kong’s sporting lore.

He also helped New Zealand win the gold medal at the 1998 Commonwealth Games and led his country to its first Rugby World Cup Sevens victory at the 2001 world championships in Argentina.

He is survived by his wife Nadene and two sons.