29 Dec 2017

The annual Prudential New Year’s Day Youth Tournament has for 51 years been a major date on the local rugby calendar, offering a showcase for the best of the community’s youth talent to demonstrate their prowess, and spectators a chance to watch our sporting stars of the future.

The work of developing and promoting rugby throughout the community continues, of course, throughout the year, with HKRU staff working tirelessly alongside the passionate volunteers from our clubs and schools. It is always particularly satisfying for all involved, therefore, to see the fruit of their labour on show at the 1st January fixtures, and this year there are a number of success stories worth celebrating.

One of the HKRU Community Foundation’s earliest initiatives was “Schools of Rugby”, an innovative intervention programme pioneered by the Scottish Rugby Union who generously shared their experience and resources. In the 5 selected schools HKRU coaches, funded by Goldman Sachs, deliver not only an introduction to touch rugby through PE lessons, but also an 8 lesson curriculum in the classroom where students are encouraged to discuss key values such as respect and teamwork through the medium of sport. Three of the “Schools of Rugby”, Confucius Hall Secondary School, Pui Tak Canossian College, and Buddhist Fat Ho Memorial School, will have representatives playing on New Year’s Day, whilst Sir Ellis Kadoorie old boy Ken Encanacion has proudly represented the Hong Kong national Under 20s at 3 consecutive World Rugby Junior Trophies.

Ken has also been a part of the Operation Breakthrough rugby section, which with the help of sponsors Standard Chartered, has had a positive impact on the lives of many young men and women over the past two decades, on and off the sports field – earlier this month the 17th and 18th Breakthrough graduates to be accepted as Police Constables entered the training college, and this summer another old boy, Fong Kit Fung, became the first to win a senior representative cap when he ran out at the Asia Rugby Sevens Series. At New Year’s Day a number of Breakthrough boys will be in action in the Under 19 Warriors’ fixture, all eager to follow in the footsteps of Ken and Fung.

In the same way that Breakthrough has always been grateful for the support of the Police and Tin Shui Wai Rugby Clubs, the HKFC rugby section has over the past few years been instrumental in providing a home for the youngsters from the Po Leung Kuk’s residential care centre who have been introduced to rugby through the HKRU’s “Tackling Life” programme. Again, there will be a number of PLK youngsters in action at various age groups throughout New Year’s Day, with their role model undoubtedly being WONG Sze-man who was selected for the national Under 17 girls’ sevens team that recently participated in the Youth Olympic Games Qualifier in Dubai. “Tackling Life”, with the support of Savills, Macquarie and KPMG, has introduced rugby and the associated values and life skills to over 4,000 students at over 25 PLK primary and secondary schools, a significant contribution towards the HKRU’s strategic goal of seeing rugby in 240 local primary schools by 2019. The two most recent PLK schools to join the ranks cater for special needs students, and they have joined another 3 similar schools in a new HKRU Community Foundation “Inclusive Rugby” initiative, backed by Ageas.

For every youngster involved, playing in a New Year’s Day Tournament is a memorable event, and, whether or not they subsequently go on to national representative honours, to have participated in this historic fixture is something they can feel very proud of.

Prudential New Year’s Day Youth Rugby Tournament 2018
0930 Ladies Under 12 Island Lions vs Peninsula Dragons
1025 Boys Under 12 Island Lions vs Peninsula Dragons
1120 Ladies Under 14 Island Lions vs Peninsula Dragons
1225 Boys Under 14 Lions vs Dragons
1330 Ladies Under 16 Lions vs Dragons
1445 Boys Under 16 Hong Kong Dragons vs Overseas Lions
1600 Ladies U19 Hong Kong Dragons vs Overseas Lions
1715 Boys U19 Warriors Dragons vs Warriors Lions
1830 Boys U19 Hong Kong Dragons vs Overseas Lions
1940 Presentation of the Larry Abel Trophy