07 Jun 2021

The Hong Kong Rugby Union has announced that Simon Amor, former Head of Sevens and attack coach for England’s Rugby Football Union, will serve as interim Hong Kong coach at this year’s Asia Rugby Championship (ARC) in November. Amor will arrive in August.

Amor is no stranger to the SAR, having represented England as player, captain and coach, for nearly two decades here. He was a linchpin of the England sides that won the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens four times in the early 2000s, and was the inaugural World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year (2004). He played for London Irish, Gloucester, Wasps and London Scottish, where he made his first foray into coaching as player-coach in 2008.

After retiring from playing in 2010, he was head coach and director of rugby for Scottish, later coaching England Sevens (men and women) and Team Great Britain. He was part of Eddie Jones’s coaching team for England before leaving the RFU last month.

The timing proved propitious for the HKRU, after Hong Kong’s previous coach Craig Hammond announced his departure earlier this month.

HKRU Chairman Patrick Donovan said, “We are delighted to welcome Simon. His achievements on the pitch here are talked about to this day, but we are most excited about his accomplishments as a coach and believe he will make a positive impact on the team. As we push for a third straight Asian championship, Simon’s appointment is a clear indication of our resolve to become the top team in Asia and to qualify for future world cups,” added Donovan. 

“This is a wonderful opportunity, and I am thankful to the HKRU for it,” said Amor from the UK. “I am excited to support the team’s preparations and perhaps provide a bit of stability given the changes surrounding the team,” said Amor from the United Kingdom.

His experience with Team GB and London Scottish will hold him in good stead for the Hong Kong role, with Britain’s silver medal in Rio coming on a very compressed 10-week timeline; Scottish, meanwhile, provided him with the experience of working with semi-professional players to earn promotion from National League 2 to the Championship. It is an experience he hopes to replicate here, with the Elite Rugby Programme for Hong Kong’s XVs professionals due to sunset at end June.

Although coaching wasn’t a planned career choice, it has come naturally to the former scrumhalf who has played for, and coached alongside, Sir Clive Woodward, Nigel Melville, Sir Ian McGeechan, and Jones.

“I’m hugely excited about coming across, it’s always rewarding to be involved with a team with aspirations like Hong Kong, and to support the preparations and continuously challenge the players.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to share the knowledge I have gleaned over a decade of coaching, but it’s much more than that, this situation is a test of my ability to build relationships and to help players fulfil their potential and be successful. Creating the relationships that are so important for building successful teams and people goes beyond the typical coaching role, and I am keen to see how I can help the players adapt to what is a unique moment for them.

“There is solid infrastructure and planning in place with the squad, so it will be a collaborative effort to see how we can adapt or improve. This is an explorative kind of piece, which is what is what most excites me, you know, where do we go with this?”

Amor is upbeat about the future of Team Hong Kong: “My message is that what we are trying to do is attainable. To be an elite rugby player on an amateur basis is eminently achievable. As long as you get your planning right and your discipline and focus right, you can be an outstanding player, represent Hong Kong and still balance a challenging and rewarding job.

“Of course, there are compromises we have to make as well, so it’s about discipline and commitment, and from everything I hear, this is a group that are committed, passionate, and want to be successful. For me the only question is… how can we make it the best semi professional set-up in the game? Can we be the absolute pinnacle of the world in terms of the way we operate? I think that is a very good aspiration for a team like Hong Kong to have now.

“The position has come about quickly and the time left is quite short, but that is the next step on this journey we are taking together.”

For Amor the goal is more about team than coach, but he admits to feeling a sense of gratitude towards the role: “Hong Kong has always been brilliant for me. I love it here, and have such great memories of this place. I am so grateful for what Hong Kong has done for me, and the experience it has given me, so this is an opportunity for me to hopefully provide something back, and I am grateful for that,” he concluded.