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Hong Kong national rugby union team

The Hong Kong national rugby union team, nicknamed the Dragons, is one of the better rugby sides in Asia outside Japan, and has consistently made the repechages of the Rugby World Cup qualifying. Rugby union in Hong Kong is administered by the Hong Kong Rugby Union since 1952, and competes annually in the Asia Rugby Championship.

Hong Kong
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s)Dragons
EmblemChinese dragon
UnionHong Kong Rugby Union
Head coachLeigh Jones
CaptainJames Cunningham
Most capsDavid Lewis (55)
Top scorerRowan Varty (120)
Top try scorerRowan Varty (24)
Home stadiumHong Kong Football Club Stadium
First colours
Second colours
World Rugby ranking
Current24 (as of 29 July 2019)
Highest21 (2018)
Lowest34 (2010)
First international
Hong Kong 11–5 Australian Universities
(1934)
Biggest win
Hong Kong 164–13 Singapore
(Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; 27 October 1994)
Biggest defeat
Japan 94–5 Hong Kong
(Tokyo, Japan; 22 May 2010)
World Cup
Appearances0
Websitewww.hkrugby.com

Hong Kong has one of the oldest rugby traditions in Asia, having been played there since the 19th century, when British colonists arrived in Hong Kong and brought the sport with them. For a long time, rugby union in Hong Kong was traditionally associated with Hong Kong's British-descended, English-speaking class, but since the 1990s there has been extensive efforts to integrate the game to the Cantonese-speaking community, with a degree of success; the first of these players being "Rambo" Leung Yeung Kit. Hong Kong have improved in form recently, having finished in second place in the ARC in 2011, 2014, and 2015, and made it to the repechage of the 2015 Rugby World Cup qualifying, though lost to Uruguay 24 to 3. They again competed in the repechage tournament for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Contents

HistoryEdit

Early historyEdit

According to old newspapers, rugby union in Hong Kong dates back to the late 1870s, which would establish Hong Kong as perhaps the oldest rugby playing nation in Asia. The players during this era were all British sailors and army/navy men, as well as police and merchant men. The first secretary of rugby in Hong Kong was Jock McGregor.[1]

The first fixtures which predate the creation of the modern Hong Kong Rugby Union in 1952 took place from 1924 to 1949. An unofficial interport team from Hong Kong played Shanghai on various dates from 1924 to 1949, both teams being composed entirely of British expatriates living in said port cities; these fixtures ceased after the establishment of Communist rule in mainland China.[2] In 1934, a Hong Kong team played against an Australia Universities team, running out victors 11 to 5.

After the establishment of modern Chinese borders, which before greyed the exact control a union had over territory in China, the Hong Kong Rugby Union was established in 1952; the continuation of British rule in China, as well as the flow of immigrants and capital from the mainland, as well as Hong Kong establishing itself as a major port, allowed the game to flourish, albeit mostly restricted to the white British community.

During this time frame the first official fixtures under the union took place. Hong Kong first received a NZ Universities team in 1958, losing 47 to nil. In 1958, Larry Abel, one of Hong Kong's earliest rugby pioneers, established mini rugby programmes and tournaments, and has been played annually to this day.[3] In 1968, Hong Kong was one of the charter nations of the Asian Rugby Football Union, the others being Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, South Korea, and Thailand. Hong Kong won its first official fixture against Japan in 1969, by the score of 24 to 22 in Tokyo.

1970sEdit

During the 1970s Hong Kong played against many of its other Asian neighbors which had a rugby history, these nations being Japan, South Korea, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Singapore. Hong Kong enjoyed and endured mixed success against its neighbors, finishing second in 1972, only to lose to Japan 16 to nil on home soil.

In 1976, the first ever edition of the Hong Kong Sevens was established, which was pivotal in strengthening the sport in Hong Kong. The concept was discussed by business partners Ian Gow and Tokkie Smith, who wanted to promote a viable rugby product in Asia. The first sponsors of this event were Cathay Pacific and Rothmans International, later replaced by The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. The first sides at this competition were Asian, as well as 2 representative sides from Australia and New Zealand. Soon, the competition grew to include teams from around the world before becoming an official part of the Rugby Sevens calendar.[4]

1980s–1990sEdit

During the 1980s, Hong Kong lagged behind Japan and South Korea in terms of competition; Hong Kong was consistently beating other Asian nations but consistently finished in third places, whereas Japan and Hong Kong were consistently vying for the top crown. Hong Kong officially joined the IRB in 1988, allowing Hong Kong to compete in the Rugby World Cup, though they did not enter the competition to qualify for 1991.

The 1990s proved to be a much more fruitful decade for Hong Kong. Hong Kong played its first ever test match against a non-Asia-Pacific opponent in 1992, losing 16 to 23 to the United States in 1992 in Boxer Stadium, San Francisco. In the same year, Hong Kong finally broke through and reached the final of the Asia Rugby Championship, beating South Korea 20 to 13 before losing to Japan 9 to 37.

Some notable players during the 1990s represented Hong Kong at the international level including Ashley Billington, David Lewis, Leung Yeung Kit, and Chan Fuk Ping.

Hong Kong participated in its first qualifying tournament for the Rugby World Cup in 1995, being drawn with Thailand and Singapore in its group. Hong Kong lost its opening fixture to South Korea 28 to 17 before beating its other opponents; Hong Kong therefore missed out on a spot at the 1995 Rugby World Cup. An impressive feat achieved during this campaign though was Ashley Billington's 10 tries versus Singapore on November 10, 1994, which is the most tries ever scored in a Rugby World Cup qualifier by a single player.

Through the 1990s, Hong Kong began organizing tests against non-Asian opponents. Opponents that were played were Namibia, Papua New Guinea, the United States, and Canada. Hong Kong recorded some famous victories, beating the USA Eagles on three occasions in the decade, including a victory in San Francisco, and beating Canada in 1998.

Despite major improvement in the 1990s, Hong Kong bottomed out in its qualifying group for the 1999 Rugby World Cup; Hong Kong beat its nemesis South Korea, but lost to Japan and were upset by the Chinese Taipei; they finished fourth and missed on direct qualification and a repechage.

2000–present: the new millenniumEdit

In 2000, Hong Kong made history when they played China in 2000; this was the first test that Hong Kong played against a team from the Chinese mainland since 1949. The game was played in Shanghai to honor the old rugby matches between Hong Kong and Shanghai. China upset Hong Kong 17 to 15 that day.

Hong Kong struggled somewhat during the early 2000s. In 2001, Hong Kong were once again surprised by China, drawing at 25 points each in Guangzhou. Hong Kong were once again upset by the Chinese Taipei in the 2003 Rugby World Cup qualifiers, losing 20 to 15, although Hong Kong beat China for the first time in that same qualification. Hong Kong lost all its fixtures in the final round of the 2007 Rugby World Cup qualifying campaign, missing out again on repechage or qualification.

The 2011 qualifying campaign was similar: Hong Kong beat both South Korea as well as newcomers Kazakhstan, but lost a crucial fixture to the Arabian Gulf; due to bonus points, Kazakhstan advanced instead of Hong Kong to the repechage.

For the 2015 qualifiers, Hong Kong finally broke through. Hong Kong were drawn into a group including its traditional East Asian rivals Japan and South Korea as well as Sri Lanka and newcomers the Philippines. Hong Kong thrashed South Korea 39 to 6 in Hong Kong, as well as recording a resounding 108 to 0 victory over the Philippines. Hong Kong finished second, and qualified for the repechage as a result. In the repechage versus Uruguay, in Montevideo, Hong Kong held firm for the first half, only trailing 6 to 3; however, Hong Kong indiscipline, coupled with key players not being available, meant that Hong Kong collapsed in the second half, losing 28 to 3, and bowing out of the qualifiers.

At the end of 2015, Hong Kong hosted the 2015 Cup of Nations, which included 3 other emerging rugby nations: Portugal, Russia, and Zimbabwe. Hong Kong finished second, beating Portugal and Zimbabwe but losing to Russia. In 2016, Hong Kong hired Leigh Jones, Japan's defense coach who played a key role in Japan's epic upset of South Africa in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, to take the role of head coach and high performance in Hong Kong.[5]

In order to further build for future success, the HKRU, under the vision of Leigh Jones, launched its first fully professional 15s programme called the Elite Rugby Program; the goal of the programme is to encourage domestic players to pursue rugby as a profession in Hong Kong, and long-term, create a professional competition akin to Japan's Top League.[6]

In the 2016 Cup of Nations, Hong Kong lost to Russia and won over Zimbabwe and Papua New Guinea. In the 2017 Cup of Nations, the team was defeated again by Russia, while beating Chile and Kenya.

Hong Kong will participate in the inaugural season of World Series Rugby, facing off against the Western Force.

OverallEdit

Top 30 rankings as of 19 August 2019[7]
Rank Change* Team Points
1  1   Wales 089.43
2  1   New Zealand 089.40
3     Ireland 088.69
4  1   South Africa 086.83
5  1   England 086.79
6     Australia 084.05
7  1   France 080.58
8  1   Scotland 079.01
9     Japan 077.21
10     Fiji 076.98
11     Argentina 076.29
12     Georgia 074.42
13     Italy 072.04
14     United States 071.93
15     Tonga 071.49
16     Samoa 069.08
17     Spain 068.15
18     Romania 066.69
19     Uruguay 065.18
20     Russia 064.81
21     Canada 061.36
22     Portugal 061.33
23     Namibia 061.01
24     Hong Kong 059.64
25     Netherlands 058.46
26     Brazil 057.84
27     Belgium 057.35
28     Germany 054.96
29     Chile 054.56
30      Switzerland 053.19
*Change from the previous week

Below is table of the representative rugby matches played by a Hong Kong national XV to 29 June 2019.[8][9][10]

Opponent Played Won Lost Drawn Win % For Aga Diff
  Arabian Gulf 6 4 2 0 66.66% 101 115 -14
  Australian Universities 2 1 0 1 75.00% 14 8 +6
  Belgium 3 2 1 0 66.66% 58 56 +2
  Brazil 1 1 0 0 100.00% 37 3 +34
  Canada 7 1 6 0 14.29% 109 209 -100
  Chile 1 1 0 0 100.00% 13 6 +7
  China 5 2 2 1 40.00% 108 81 +27
  Chinese Taipei 19 13 5 1 68.42% 638 295 +343
  Cook Islands 2 2 0 0 100.00% 77 3 +74
  Czech Republic 1 0 1 0 0.00% 5 17 -12
  England XV 1 0 1 0 0.00% 0 26 -26
  Fiji 3 0 3 0 0.00% 33 155 -122
  France XV 1 0 1 0 0.00% 6 26 -20
  Germany 2 0 2 0 0.00% 23 50 -27
  Japan 28 4 24 0 14.29% 370 1212 -842
  Japan XV 9 1 8 0 11.11% 86 299 -213
  Kazakhstan 5 4 1 0 80.00% 126 67 +59
  Kenya 6 4 1 1 66.66% 198 151 +47
  Malaysia 11 11 0 0 100.00% 643 86 +557
  Namibia 1 0 1 0 0.00% 12 22 -10
  Netherlands 2 0 1 1 0.00% 10 25 -15
  New Zealand U–23 1 0 1 0 0.00% 0 47 -47
  New Zealand Universities 5 0 5 0 0.00% 25 142 -117
  Norway 1 1 0 0 100.00% 59 17 +42
  Papua New Guinea 3 3 0 0 100.00% 79 26 +53
  Philippines 3 3 0 0 100.00% 241 30 +211
  Portugal 1 1 0 0 100.00% 13 6 +6
  Russia 5 0 5 0 0.00% 62 144 -82
  Scotland XV 1 0 1 0 0.00% 6 42 -36
  Singapore 13 11 2 0 84.61% 540 112 +428
  South Korea 34 18 16 0 52.94% 878 764 +114
  Sri Lanka 9 9 0 0 100.00% 431 84 +347
  Thailand 9 6 3 0 66.67% 289 89 +200
  Tunisia 2 1 1 0 50.00% 34 41 -7
  United Arab Emirates 5 5 0 0 100.00% 325 65 +285
  United States 7 4 3 0 57.14% 191 152 +39
  Uruguay 1 0 1 0 0.00% 3 28 -25
  Wales XV 1 0 1 0 0.00% 3 57 -54
  Zimbabwe 3 3 0 0 100.00% 86 29 +57
Total 219 115 99 5 52.51% 5868 4784 +1084

Tournament historyEdit

Rugby World CupEdit

World Cup record World Cup Qualification record
Year Round P W D L F A P W D L F A
   1987 Not invited -
    1991 Did not enter Did not enter
  1995 Did not qualify 3 3 0 1 354 67
  1999 Did not qualify 3 1 0 2 39 88
  2003 Did not qualify 4 3 0 1 81 42
  2007 Did not qualify 4 2 0 2 79 243
  2011 Did not qualify 4 2 0 2 65 133
  2015 Did not qualify 9 5 0 4 333 201
  2019 Did not qualify 9 7 0 2 365 117
Total 0/9 0 0 0 0 0 0 36 23 0 13 1316 891

Asian Rugby ChampionshipEdit

Asian Rugby Championship record
Year Round P W D L F A
  1972 Runner-up 3 2 0 1 35 22
  1974 Fifth place 3 1 0 2 43 61
  1978 Fifth place 3 0 1 2 9 26
  1980 Third place 4 3 0 1 231 51
  1982 Third place 4 3 0 1 76 41
  1984 Fifth place 3 1 0 2 67 70
  1988 Third place 4 3 0 1 61 76
  1990 Third place 4 2 0 2 93 56
  1992 Runners up 4 3 0 1 156 66
  1994 Third place 4 3 0 1 354 67
  1996 Third place 4 3 0 1 298 49
  1998 Third place 3 1 0 2 39 88
  2000 Fourth place 3 0 0 3 47 136
  2002 Third place 3 1 0 2 50 85
  2004 Third place 2 1 0 1 75 47
  2006–07 Third place 2 0 0 2 8 75
       2008 Third place 4 2 0 2 96 154
      2009 Fourth place 4 1 0 3 110 126
       2010 Third place 4 2 0 2 65 133
      2011 Runners-up 4 3 0 1 155 61
      2012 Third place 2 2 0 2 159 98
      2013 Third place 4 2 0 2 134 108
      2014 Runners-up 4 3 0 1 196 65
    2015 Runners-up 4 1 1 2 64 111
    2016 Runners-up 4 2 0 2 95 139
    2017 Runners-up 4 2 0 2 99 65
    2018 Winner 4 4 0 0 227 44
    2019 Winner 4 4 0 0 212 37
Total 2 titles 99 55 2 42 3251 2157

PlayersEdit

Current squadEdit

On 23 October, Hong Kong named a 35-man touring squad to play the Dragons and Crawshays RFC in Wales, in preparation for the 2019 Rugby World Cup Repechage tournament.[11]

Head Coach:   Leigh Jones
Caps updated: 16 November 2018

Note: Flags indicate national union for the club/province as defined by World Rugby.

Player Position Date of birth (Age) Caps Club/province
Mitch Andrews Hooker (1989-08-03) 3 August 1989 (age 30) 0   Natixis HKFC
Dayne Jans Hooker (1988-08-18) 18 August 1988 (age 31) 6   Hong Kong Scottish
Alexander Post Hooker (1995-10-10) 10 October 1995 (age 23) 3   Esher
Ben Roberts Hooker (1988-04-22) 22 April 1988 (age 31) 14   Hong Kong Cricket Club
Daniel Barlow Prop (1986-06-24) 24 June 1986 (age 33) 11   USRC Tigers
Adam Fullgrabe Prop (1991-07-03) 3 July 1991 (age 28) 14   Kowloon
Benjamin Higgins Prop (1992-07-15) 15 July 1992 (age 27) 15   Valley
Grant Kemp Prop (1988-10-31) 31 October 1988 (age 30) 1   Valley
Callum McFeat-Smith Prop (1996-03-08) 8 March 1996 (age 23) 2   Natixis HKFC
Jack Parfitt Prop (1992-06-23) 23 June 1992 (age 27) 24   Hong Kong Scottish
Dylan Rogers Prop (1984-07-05) 5 July 1984 (age 35) 12   Hong Kong Cricket Club
James Cunningham Lock (1990-03-18) 18 March 1990 (age 29) 23   Kowloon
Jack Delaforce Lock (1990-08-17) 17 August 1990 (age 29) 23   Sandy Bay
Fin Field Lock (1995-07-22) 22 July 1995 (age 24) 23   Hong Kong Cricket Club
Craig Lodge Lock (1990-10-25) 25 October 1990 (age 28) 0   USRC Tigers
Michael Parfitt Lock (1994-09-02) 2 September 1994 (age 24) 8   Hong Kong Scottish
Kane Boucaut Flanker (1991-04-17) 17 April 1991 (age 28) 9   Hong Kong Scottish
Michael Coverdale Flanker (1995-03-12) 12 March 1995 (age 24) 3   Natixis HKFC
Toby Fenn Flanker (1987-08-24) 24 August 1987 (age 31) 21   Valley
Nick Hewson Flanker (1984-03-06) 6 March 1984 (age 35) 14   Valley
Thomas Lamboley Number 8 (1990-07-27) 27 July 1990 (age 29) 17   Valley
Jamie Hood Scrum-half (1986-11-13) 13 November 1986 (age 32) 11   Natixis HKFC
Jamie Lauder Scrum-half (1992-03-18) 18 March 1992 (age 27) 6   Natixis HKFC
Bryn Phillips Scrum-half (1992-09-23) 23 September 1992 (age 26) 1   Kowloon
Liam Slatem Scrum-half (1989-01-12) 12 January 1989 (age 30) 8   Sandy Bay
Benjamin Rimene Fly-half (1984-10-09) 9 October 1984 (age 34) 20   Valley
Matthew Rosslee Fly-half (1987-02-24) 24 February 1987 (age 32) 19   Valley
Ben Axten-Burrett Centre (1992-10-01) 1 October 1992 (age 26) 0   Natixis HKFC
Tyler Spitz Centre (1990-01-27) 27 January 1990 (age 29) 22   USRC Tigers
Lewis Warner Centre (1991-07-25) 25 July 1991 (age 28) 1   Kowloon
Max Woodward Centre (1990-10-27) 27 October 1990 (age 28) 12   Valley
Max Denmark Wing (1999-08-11) 11 August 1999 (age 20) 7   Natixis HKFC
Conor Hartley Wing (1993-01-05) 5 January 1993 (age 26) 6   Hong Kong Scottish
Salom Yiu Wing (1988-02-04) 4 February 1988 (age 31) 15   USRC Tigers
Alex McQueen Fullback (1988-05-22) 22 May 1988 (age 31) 8   Hong Kong Cricket Club
Casey Stone Fullback (1985-03-03) 3 March 1985 (age 34) 1   USRC Tigers

Notable former playersEdit

The Hong Kong Rugby Union has inducted 16 players into its Hall of Fame as part of its Roll of Honour. Some of these players include;

  • Larry Abel, pioneer of youth rugby in Hong Kong.
  • Ashley Billington, wing who holds the record for most tries scored in an international match.
  • Rambo Leung Yeung Kit, first Chinese player to represent Hong Kong at international level.
  • David Lewis, most capped player for Hong Kong at 55 appearances.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Hong Kong Rugby Union". Asia Rugby. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  2. ^ "The History of Sport Played in China's Treaty Ports". treatyportsport.com. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  3. ^ "Hong Kong Rugby Roll of Honour". Hong Kong Rugby Union. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  4. ^ Signes, Emil. "History of the Hong Kong Sevens". Rugby7.com. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  5. ^ Porteous, James (18 January 2016). "Leigh Jones helped mastermind Japan's stunning Rugby World Cup campaign – now he aims to do the same for Hong Kong". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  6. ^ "Hong Kong Rugby Union launches first fully professional 15s programme". hongkong.coconuts.co. Hong Kong cocounuts.co. 24 March 2016. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  7. ^ "Men's World Rankings". World Rugby. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  8. ^ Hong Kong rugby stats
  9. ^ "Hong Kong International Rugby Results". rugbyinternational.net. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  10. ^ "Hong Kong Results". RugbyData. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  11. ^ HONG KONG APPROACHES FINAL HURDLE ON ROAD TO RUGBY WORLD CUP 2019

External linksEdit