30th Nov 2016

This year the Prudential New Year’s Day Youth Tournament celebrates its 50th anniversary, and to mark this momentous milestone we will be running a special feature every Wednesday over the next 5 weeks.

Read as some of our international stars, past and present, share the memories of their own New Year’s Day experiences as we look back on five decades of rugby history…

This week, current Hong Kong 7s and 15s international Natasha Olsen-Thorne, the first female player to win the Larry Abel Trophy.

The New Years Day Tournament for youth was and still is one of biggest, most fun rugby events of the year. I played in my first ever NYD tournament as an U19 in 2009, so I was a bit late to the game. However, I made sure that I was able to play in every single one following, and once I was too old to play, went back to help coach one of the teams. It was exciting because we got to play with and against our friends and fellow teammates in front of a large crowd. The tournament was also one of the few chances we had to play XV’s rugby, because most of our league at the time was VII’s based. It was our chance to showcase our skills and enjoy ourselves.

Probably my fondest memory was in 2010 when I made a try-saving tackle. The opposing team had broken our defence line in the 5m channel and was charging towards the try line. I chased her down from the opposite sideline and tackled her into touch just as she was about to score the try. Never give up, and don't forget a good defence wins games! I was very honoured that year to win the Larry Abel Award.

When I look back, I always smile because NYD shows how close-knit and supportive the rugby community is in Hong Kong. Some of my current Hong Kong teammates, I met at NYD. I especially remember looking up to and being coached by Lindsay Varty and playing against Aggie Poon who would run circles around us. Girls rugby has come a long way since I started playing, and NYD is a tournament that showcases the growing skills and talent of the future players of Hong Kong Rugby.