17 Nov 2020

Planning for this year’s 54th New Year’s Day Youth Tournament has inevitably been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic; the Union is fully committed to staging the event, however the current travel and quarantine restrictions mean the format of those matches that are normally contested by a team of locally based students against overseas students have had to be adjusted - these are the Girls U19 and Boys U16 and U19 matches.


Whilst any overseas players who are in Hong Kong over the Festive period will be welcomed to try out for the NYD teams, it is unrealistic to expect there to be sufficient numbers to field entire teams.


In identifying alternative formats for the affected games this year, the paramount considerations were to provide competitive games, i.e. not obviously one-sided going into the event, and ensure everyone has an opportunity to put themselves forward for selection.


For the Girls U19s, which only recently moved to an overseas format, it was felt the most appropriate change was to revert to the previous approach of selecting the best players available and dividing them into 2 equal strength sides - this is also consistent with the Girls’ U14 and U16 games.


For the Boys U16s and U19s there is a new look for 2021, but with a strong reference back to the early history of the tournament - both age groups will see ESF select teams take on teams selected from all other schools and clubs, including overseas students.


KGV students were a key part of the first ever “local” team back in 1968, combining with their peers from the King George military school, and ESF students have proudly represented Hong Kong national men’s and women’s teams right up to the present day.

Based on this long-established relationship, and as the Union looks forward to even greater collaboration with ESF going forward, we were delighted that they accepted the invitation to provide teams for New Year’s Day.


The ESF teams will get “first choice” on players who play for both school and a club, and the team will be selected and coached by ESF staff, including rugby legend Rowan Varty, now a PE teacher at KGV.  This initiative fits with ESF’s strengthening of their own rugby programme over the last couple of years, exemplified by the ESF select team that participated in the Dubai Schools 7s last year.


The opposition will be selected and coached by Union staff, who are confident having reviewed and analysed player data that the teams will be evenly matched on the day.


We look forward to this very unique New Year’s Day Tournament, which we are confident will continue to provide a wonderful showcase for our youth talent.  As is traditional, the tournament will be generously hosted by HKFC, and we will again be using the event to showcase the great work done in the youth community by our partners Kely Support Group


“Given the tumultuous nature of the past year, I am particularly looking forward to the New Year’s Day Tournament, and welcoming in what we all hope will be a rather brighter 2021,” said HKRU Director of Youth, Tony Karton. “The planning has not been without its challenges, but out of adversity comes opportunity, and I believe this year’s format will provide us with some exciting and competitive matches at all age levels.  I look forward to seeing many of the rugby community down at HKFC on the 1st January for what is always a highly enjoyable day.”

Explanation of Selection Criteria

 Boy’s NAG Program

Selection for the U16 & U19 boys will be conducted via a watchers program running from 15th Nov – 6th Dec thus incorporating 4 rounds of matches. Squads of up to 45 players will be selected to train together and from there 25 players will be selected to play against the ESF teams on New Year’s Day. ESF will have priority in terms of selecting players that also play club rugby and will announce their squad on Friday 27th November. The Hong Kong Clubs squads will be announced on the respective dates: U19’s - 9th Dec; U16s - 2nd Dec; U14s - 2nd Dec. Overseas players will be considered for the HK Clubs teams at U16 & U19 level provided they are able to attend training from 21st Dec onwards.

The U14’s will follow the same approach as in previous years. The watchers program will identify 50-60-players, with 44 being selected to play on New Year’s Day. The Selection will be made on the 23rd of December.

Interested Overseas players should contact [email protected]

 Girl’s Combined GYD/NAG Program

For the 2020/21 National Age Grade program, all girls youth players (U14,U16 and U19) will be given the opportunity to participate in the GYD x NAG program which concludes with all players taking part in the Girls Youth Rugby Festival. Applications for the program will close on Monday the 30th of November.

Following the Girls Youth Rugby Festival 50 players will be selected in each age group to play in the New Year’s Day Tournament game.

Interested Overseas players should contact [email protected]