14th Dec 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, it’s all in the family…

One would expect the Chairman of the Colts Association to take an active interest in the biggest event on the youth rugby calendar, but you could argue that Simon Reid-Kay and his family have taken things to the extreme!

Simon may not have played in the New Year’s Day tournament himself, but he did help coach the Under 12 Peninsula team to victory in 2005, and he and his wife Baba have been ever-present in the spectator stand for 17 years, watching not 1, not 2 but 4 sons work their way through the age groups…eldest lad Hamish first pulled on his boots on the 1st January in 2001, closely followed by Robert, then Angus with young Fergus the last of the clan hoping to bring the dynasty to a close with a run for the Overseas Under 19s this year. In total that makes about 16 matches that have featured a Reid-Kay down the years…surely a record!

Another prominent rugby family to make their mark on the 1st January are the Owens… in the words of father David; “Our lads played every year but one from 2001-2014. The odd one out in 2005 we went away which they complained so much about we had to spend all subsequent New Years in HK. Fortunately this is now a great tradition and three of them are back this year to visit.

We had a few years with 3 playing and one year all 4 which made for a long but special day. They all played age rep U14-20s and are all still playing in England, Laos, Mexico and Scotland respectively.

Lots of memories of mixing my role as coach (under 12 Island twice), Dad and medic. Suffice to say they have all been stitched up on the kitchen table at some point! One of my funniest memories is standing on the sidelines next to my oldest age 11 with a gash above his eye. He had just started tearing bit because I had told him he couldn’t go back on and when he asked me to stitch him then I didn’t have my medical kit. A well meaning lady came over to make sure he was OK and to tell me she thought his cut may need looking at. “I’m fine’ he said “Dad will stitch me when we get home”. I think she assumed I would use the sewing kit!”

And finally…the Woodwards…father Ken has coached regularly down the years, but perhaps the most noteworthy New Year was when he pulled his boots back on for the 40th anniversary celebration match, the same year both sons Leo and Hong Kong national team captain Max were also in action! Ken takes up the story; “I have been involved in HKFC NYD tournament for many years as a parent, coach, player. best and fairest player selector and now in my most favoured role, a spectator!

It is an exciting and vibrant tournament that involves boys and girls from different age groups and is a competitive stepping board for many players who have gone on to bigger and better things in the world of rugby. Indeed many have represented HK at 7s and 15s.

However, perhaps the most poignant year was 2007 when I played for the Veterans (Kowloon side v Hong Kong side) in the 40th anniversary game (when I say played I use that term most judiciously, I walked around and got substituted as quickly as possible) and both my sons Leo and Max played for HK in their respective year groups.

So for once and once only all three Woodward boys were on team lists included in the match day programme. I was a very proud father as it was a special moment for our family. Not sure the younger Woodward's were as proud as their father when they watched him play, indeed I think they thought the very opposite!

Some anecdotal points from the Vets game include a most soothing and relaxing pre match speech from Dave Lewis (captain of Kowloon Vets). He invoked the concept of fair play and requested Corinthian spirirt all round!!!! We ran on to start the game with interesting thoughts in our heads. Many other interesting old acquaintances were remade (especially in the front row) and suitable greetings were exchanged. The other smart move was to get an old ball 1967 style with a lace in. It weighed a ton and was almost impossible to catch.

So, great memories from the Woodward family from the NYD tournament(s). I wish all players, coaching and back up staff good luck for the 2017 competition and long may this great event remain in the HK rugby calendar.”