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Rugby: Varty, Robertson named HK’s best-ever sevens players

Rowan Varty and Keith Robertson were honoured as Hong Kong’s best-ever sevens players. Photo: c/o HKRFU.

Rowan Varty and Keith Robertson were honoured as Hong Kong’s best-ever sevens players. Photo: c/o HKRFU.

March 27, 2015: Long-time teammates Rowan Varty and Keith Robertson were named as the joint winners of the ‘Hong Kong’s Hometown Legend’ award, created by the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union to honour the best local player to have competed at the Hong Kong Sevens since 1976.

 

After a fan ballot on social media, Varty and Robertson were runaway joint leaders and the final decision rested with the HKRFU panel of test veterans, which elected to confer a joint award. (For Rowan Varty Q&A, visit: sport-asia.com/varty-qa-i-genuinely-think-we-have-a-very-very-strong-chance/)

 

Varty, 29, is Hong Kong’s most-capped sevens player and will mark his 10th appearance at the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens on Friday. Robertson has been hampered by injury over the past few seasons and was unable to fully recover in time for selection, having previously played in seven Hong Kong Sevens.

 

Robertson is the 13th-highest points scorer at the Hong Kong Sevens with 128 points since the inception of the HSBC Sevens World Series in 1999/2000, while Varty is tied-13th in the all-time top try scorers in Hong Kong since 2000 with 18.

 

Both have also been standout performers in 15-a-side. Varty played professionally in Japan’s Top League and was the first Hong Kong player selected for the Barbarians ahead of their match versus the British & Irish Lions in 2013, playing against England in Twickenham in a warm-up match prior to the Tour.

 

Dai Rees, the HKRFU’s Head of Performance, said: “The two were well clear of the field in the public vote and have had a huge contribution to Hong Kong Rugby in the modern era. I think the panel’s decision for a joint award was fitting.

 

“They are both different style of players, but they complement each other on the pitch and are best friends off it, having grown up and played together in Hong Kong since they were young.”

 

Both capped at 18 years old, the two players have been part of a side that has had success at the Hong Kong Sevens, winning the Shield on its debut in 2010 and reaching the Bowl final against England in 2013.

 

“I first came across both of them in 2007 coaching Wales at the Adelaide Sevens,” Rees said. “Little did I know that two years later I would be coaching Hong Kong and that these two guys would become a huge part of my life.

 

“Personally, I’ll never forget 2010 when we beat Wales, who were at the time world champions, with two future Lions in the side. Then we went on to beat Russia in the final and win the Shield in the year it was introduced in Hong Kong. It was a special run.”

 

Rees also noted their contrasting styles, but highlighted the way they complemented each other on the pitch.

 

“Keith was excellent in terms of his ability to create things and his unpredictability, but you could count on him to be superb inside the stadium with 40,000 people cheering for Hong Kong. He is a real entertainer with the way he plays,” Rees said.

 

“Rowan is primarily a centre/wing and has been our top finisher for some time. You can go through some of the World Rugby videos where they identify the top tries from each year’s Hong Kong Sevens and several of them are his. It demonstrates his class. Neither of them could have given anything more in a Hong Kong shirt.”

 

For tournament information, visit: www.hksevens.com

 

Source: HKRFU (www.hkrugby.com); Editing by SportAsia

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