The Hong Kong Women’s Rugby Team have now competed in their first World Cup Tournament
The Hong Kong women’s rugby team did what their male counterparts have been able to do so far, qualify for the World Cup.
Although the men’s team is considered one of the better rugby national sides in Asia; it is the women’s team that have qualified first. In a region where celebrating female athletes is not as commonplace as in the west. Will this rugby team set in a motion a change in culture and start a legacy: That women can and should be celebrated for their athletic prowess and achievements; that sports are a worthy investment and that young girls can see that it is possible to have a career in sports.
Qualifying for the first time
The selectors complied a squad of 28 women, with a healthy mix of experience and potential to compete in Hong Kong’s first Women’s Rugby World Cup in Dublin.
The Squad selected:
Forwards: CHOW Mei-nam (captain); CHAN Ka-yan; CHAN Leong-sze, Royce; CHAN Tsz-ching, Agnes; CHENG Ka-chi, Christy; CHEUNG Shuk-Han, Jasmine; Christine GORDON; LAU Nga-wun, Tammy; LEE Ka-shun; PUN Wai-yan; Amelie SEURE; SIU Wing-ni, Winnie; SO Hoi-ting, Karen; TSANG Sin-yan; WONG Yuen-shan.
Backs: Adrienne GARVEY (vice captain); CHONG Ka-yan; CHOR Lik-fung, Laurel; Kelsie BOUTTLE; HO Wai-on, Jessica; Rose HOPEWELL-FONG Siu-lan; LAU Sze-wa; LEE Tsz-ting; MAK Ho-yee, Chloe; Natasha OLSON-THORNE; POON Pak-yan, Aggie; Colleen TJOSVOLD; Lindsay VARTY.
The Tournament, The Group of Death: NZ, Canada and Wales
Hong Kong had been placed in one of the most challenging groups of the tournament. They faced Canada and then the New Zealand Black Ferns, two of the tournaments favorites, losing to both by large margins. It prompted some to question if such mismatches risked undermining the competition as a spectacle.
These large score margins are by no means limited to the women’s game; Japan once lost to New Zealand by 145 points in the 1995 men’s World Cup. But Japan developed it side and eventually beat South Africa in the 2015 World Cup in one of the most memorable matches in men’s World Cup history.
Majority of the squad are amateurs
It must be remembered that much of the Hong Kong squad includes several full-time athletes from the HKRU sevens programme at the HKSI but the majority of the squad are amateurs. These women have given up significant amounts of time throughout the campaign to train.
“These are not professional players, but they train professionally”
“These are not professional players, but they train professionally,” said Hull. “They are doctors, teachers, social workers and students, and they deserve praise and respect for the commitment they have shown.”
Perhaps with more support and investment, the women’s team would continue to get stronger.
Fist points in the World Cup
Hong Kong women’s team sought to answer their critics immediately as they went out energetically to face Wales, scoring first! They played aggressive and expansive rugby which rattled Wales and helped produce one of the most entertaining matches of this tournament.
Hong Kong’s ferocious tackling and dogged rugby, despite being unable to secure the victory, displayed a spirit that said Hong Kong will definitely be back next tournament.
Reflections of Coach Jo Hull’s Goals before the tournament:
Hong Kong coach Jo Hull had said before the tournament began, that she sought to leverage the Rugby World Cup to be a transformative event for Hong Kong Women’s Rugby.
“to ensure that our first World Cup appearance isn’t our last, and to create a legacy for the game back home in Hong Kong”
“We are going to use every woman in the squad in Ireland, and that is a key to our larger goal and mission: to ensure that our first World Cup appearance isn’t our last, and to create a legacy for the game back home in Hong Kong,” said national coach Jo Hull.
“Qualification for the World Cup is a good start, but our objectives transcend wins and losses in terms of creating our legacy. We want to inspire more girls to take up Rugby after our appearance.”
“Qualification for the World Cup is a good start, but our objectives transcend wins and losses in terms of creating our legacy. We want to inspire more girls to take up Rugby after our appearance.
“We also want to change the perception of the women’s game in Hong Kong and to show how tough you have to be, how dedicated and how resilient you have to be – rather than giving in or walking away when it gets tough. The players selected are a key to crafting that legacy,” Hull added.
Hull and the Hong Kong team did exactly that, they gained experience, they never gave up and they no doubt return to cement their position as legitimate competitors on the international stage.
photos courtesy of HKRU