Sport Asia
Don't Miss

Rugby Sevens: Hong Kong’s World Series bid ‘too soon’; Japan get ready

Hong Kong had an experienced squad at the 12-team qualifier, but will have to wait another year for a World Series bid. Photo: Power Sport Images for HKRFU.

Hong Kong had an experienced squad at the 12-team qualifier, but will have to wait another year for a World Series bid. Photo: Power Sport Images for HKRFU.

March 30, 2014: Hong Kong Sevens head coach Gareth Baber believes the city’s bid to earn a place on the HSBC Sevens World Series may have come too early in the team’s full-time elite athlete programme, which started at the Hong Kong Sports Institute last year.

 

Despite home support at the Hong Kong Stadium, the hosts Kong were knocked out of the 12-team qualifier in the semi-finals on Sunday, losing 12-0 to an Italy side they had comfortably beaten 19-0 a day earlier.

 

“Probably if you have a look at our programme and where we’re at with numbers … you’ve seen a number of those players playing for Hong Kong and continuing to do so. We’re trying to grow the programme. Could it have come a bit too soon? Possibly. But you don’t know that until you’re in it,” Baber said.

 

“Playing at that top level of World Series really progresses your game as well, so it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. We’re under no illusions now. We want to develop the programme and we want to push forward to the Asian Games now.”

 

Baber said that the focus was on increasing the playing roster from its current numbers to take advantage of the world-class facilities at the Hong Kong Sports Institute.

 

“We just need to grow the number of players able to compete at international-level sevens. We’re desperately trying to do that at the Sports Institute at the moment, which is a great facility for developing these players,” said the former Wales Sevens scrumhalf and coach.

 

“You can’t just rely on 12 or 14 players. You’ve got to grow it so you’ve got 20 or 25 in the programme. When you get that, you establish a level of competition between the group, which will get you your standards.”

 

Japan centre Lote Tuqiri admitted he was surprised that Italy, not Hong Kong, were their opponents in the qualifier final. Japan ran out easy 26-5 winners against Italy, but have traditionally had tight contests against Hong Kong, the latter even deposing them as HSBC Asian Sevens Series champions in 2012.

 

“For us coming into this tournament, Italy were underdogs. No one had even played them before, so it was the first time we played Italy,” Tuqiri said. “It was good we came out with a win, but I was surprised Hong Kong lost out against Italy.”

 

While Hong Kong will now focus on the Asian Games and the Asian Sevens Series, Tuqiri and his teammates  have the season-ending Sevens World Series events in Glasgow and London to look forward to, before their first full season on the nine-stop circuit in 2014/15.

 

“At the moment, it’s really hard to guess how we’ll do,” Tuqiri said. “I wish and hope we’ll try and keep our place on the World Series for the next few years.”

You must be logged in to post a comment Login