The Hong Kong Women’s national rugby training squad will take their first steps along the road to the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 in Ireland in August with tomorrow’s Super Series match at Hong Kong Football Club (13.30). The women became the first Hong Kong national rugby team to qualify for a Rugby World Cup last December.
Tomorrow’s match will be an important factor in selection for the upcoming tour to Spain at the end of the month as coach Jo Hull ramps up her preparations ahead of the world championship. Hong Kong will play two matches in Valladolid, Spain – with the second an official test match (3 June).
“We want to hold our heads up high and when we come back from the World Cup we want women and girls across the SAR to want to play rugby for Hong Kong. To understand that competing on the world stage is within reach and that there are good opportunities to play and continue their rugby here,” Hull added.
Following the tour, Hong Kong will take on Japan in a home and away series in July in the Women’s Asia Rugby Championship.
“Our approach is to take it one step at a time. The Super Series is essential for us to prepare for Spain. Spain is essential for us to prepare for Japan and the Japan series is all about getting ready for our opening World Cup match against Canada,” Hull said.
Hull and her coaching team are presently working with a training squad of 45 elite players, including members of the sevens team and the Hong Kong Women’s Rugby Junior Development group as well as players drafted in from the National Age Grade programme at U19s level, with an eye on developing strength in depth.
Tomorrow’s encounter will help the selectors winnow down a squad for Spain. Following the match a 32-player training squad for the Spanish tour will be named, with the final 26-person travel squad announced in the week of 22 May.
A clear message has gone out to the team about what the selectors will be looking for noted Hull:
“We are basing our selection on facts and performance. All of the players are very clear on that message. They understand that no matter who you are, we won’t be respecting reputations when it comes to selection for the Rugby World Cup.
“Full credit to the players,” added Hull, “they have not only understood that message, they have embraced it, which is hugely positive and reinforces the fact that we are building an increasingly competitive atmosphere within the squad,” noted Hull.
Saturday’s match is also an important opportunity for the selectors to experiment with their line-ups and look at a variety of combinations ahead of the next stage of preparations.
“We want to look at a few different players to possibly include for Spain, because we need to continue developing our strength in depth. We know we will need a larger squad to manage the playing demands of the next few months,” Hull added.
Hull lauded the team’s commitment to date. “They have been training intensely since the end of the year and managing the physical and time demands while balancing professional careers and their studies.
“Tomorrow is about applying what we have been doing in training and doing that under pressure and at a faster pace. There is a good feeling in the camp; some good positive tension ahead of the game. No one is resting on their laurels. The motivation of these women and how hard they are working has been tremendous.
“It’s been a big shift; not just in the team’s belief that they can play at a high level but in their desire to play at the top level and their understanding of exactly what that demands,” Hull said.
Super Series Squads:
Hong Kong Dragons
- PUN Wai-yan (Gai Wu); 2. Karen SO (Valley); 3. WONG Yuen-shan (USRC); 4. Claire FORSTER (HKFC); 5. CHOW Mei-nam (Gai Wu); 6. Sharon TSANG (Gai Wu); 7. Winnie SIU Wing-ni; 8. TSANG Ching-man (SCAA CWB); 9. MAK Ho-yee (Kowloon), 10. Rose HOPEWELL-FONG (HKFC); 11. CHAU Hei-tung (Kowloon), 12. KWONG Sau-yan (TPD); 13. NAM Ka-man (USRC); 14. CHENG Tsz-ting (Gai Wu); 15. Colleen TJOSVOLD (Valley); 16. HO Hoi-lam (Gai Wu); 17. KU Hoi-ying (Gai Wu), 18. Christy CHENG Ka-chi (Gai Wu); 19. Jessica HO (USRC); 20. YUEN Lok-yee (Kowloon), 21. Hebe TALIS (USRC).
Hong Kong Lions
- LAU Nga-wun (Gai Wu); 2. Royce CHAN Leong-sze (HKFC); 3. LEE Ka-shun (Gai Wu); 4. Eunice LAI Ming-yan (USRC); 5. TSANG Sin-yan (Kowloon); 6. CHENG Ching-to (Valley); 7. CHAN Tsz-ching (TPD); 8. Amelie SEURE (Valley); 9. SHAM Wai-sum (Gai Wu); 10. LEE Tsz-ting (Gai Wu); 11. Laurel CHOR (Valley); 12. Rebecca THOMPSON (Valley); 13. Natasha OLSON-THORNE (USRC); 14. CHONG Ka-yan (Gai Wu); 15. POON Pak-yan (Gai WU); 16. WONG Pui-yan (SCAA CWB); 17. Iris LAM Tim-yeung (TPD); 18. LAM Tsz-yan (SCAA CWB); 19. Lindsay VARTY (USRC) 20. Kelsie BOUTTLE (Valley); 21. LAU Sze-w (Gai Wu).