23 Nov 2019

The Hong Kong, China men’s sevens squad passed its first test at the Asian qualifier for the 2020 Olympic Games, beating Malaysia 54-0 this morning at the Namdong Asiad Rugby Stadium in Incheon, South Korea.

Hong Kong produced eight tries in the rout, with the majority of the first half scoring coming as a result of positive defensive pressure with Hong Kong producing several turnovers that led to first half scores for experienced campaigners Lee Jones, Salom Yiu Kam-shing, captain Max Woodward and Jamie Hood.

The 26-0 lead at half-time was expanded on in the second stanza with coach Paul John using the entirety of his bench early in the final stretch, a target for the team ahead of the tournament.

Woodward collected a second try off the kick-off after Tom McQueen ran the ball back deep. McQueen was then gifted a try of his own on the next attack, taking a quick inside pass to the house.  Liam Herbert and Max Denmark, the two youngest players in the squad, added tries down the stretch. Russell Webb contributed six conversions with Hood notching the final as Hong Kong ran out easy winners.

Coach Paul John was pleased to get the win under his belt to start, saying, “The first game is always tricky. The first three or four minutes we played really good defence. Their approach was a bit more physical than we expected and the boys had to work really hard for that first try, but defensively we were very good.”

John was pleased at the offensive output with the score the high-water mark for the opening pool matches, saying, “It’s always good to score tries, but what wins a tournament like this is defence.”

That marker was also important for winger Tom McQueen, who said, “It’s not often that we are the so-called favourites at a tournament so it is important for us to come out and have a start like that.”

Hong Kong will play Chinese Taipei in the final pool match at 14.14 Hong Kong time.  The match will be live-streamed 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.