The following article on the preparation undertaken by Korea for their upcoming games against Hong Kong in the ARC has been kindly submitted by Owen McCaffrey, of Korea
The South Korean National Rugby team recently had a month long break between Asian Rugby Championship (ARC) fixtures so Coach John Walters decided to use the time in New Zealand.
The team spent 14-days in New Zealand supported financially by their new sponsor OK!Savingsbank. By all accounts, it was a rewarding experience with the South Korean players being introduced to New Zealand and Maori culture, played two fixtures against strong NZ opposition and getting in some much-needed team bonding.
The team stayed at Hui Te Rangiora Marae (Maori communal house) in Hamilton City which was in the Waikato province, in the North Island of New Zealand.
They trained outside on the soft Waikato fields and indoors using the state-of-the-art indoor training facilities of the Waikato Mitre 10 Cup team.
The Waikato region has a strong Maori heritage which is a part of the rugby culture. John Walters said the cultural experience was well accepted by his players: “We are spending a lot of time together which is perfect for us and endeavor to build a “Team First” family culture where all the boys, old and young, are contributing around the Marae as well as on the field.”
10th May: A Game of Three halves
A game of three halves is a modern, innovative training method used in New Zealand rugby. Each team ends up playing a full match of two halves against two different opposition. The All All Blacks use a game of three halves in their pre-season training.
South Korea travelled North to Massey Park in South Auckland to face off against Counties Manukau Cavaliers and QBE North Harbour in their game of three halves. Counties Manukau and North Harbour are dynamic and strong rugby unions in New Zealand which have fostered cultures of success over the last 5 years.
Counties Manukau reached the Mitre 10 Cup semifinals in 2013 and 2016 and won the National Sevens in 2016 and 2017 while QBE North Harbour won the second division Championship last year
South Korea performed strongly in both games, coming out on top against Counties Manukau Cavaliers 14-7 and going down to QBE North Harbour. John Walters was pleased with the effort.
“The team played very well in both halves of this match. In the first half against Counties we had some long periods on attack and held on to the ball well creating some good opportunities.
The second half against North Harbour our set piece worked very well, dominating the scrum and winning a lot of ball off Harbour line out.”
Counties Manukau Coach Grant HensonGrant Henson was impressed by South Korean loose forward trio and the skills of their backline.
“I thought the Koreans played a pretty exciting sort of game. I thought they played with good width and their set piece and in particular their lineout defence was very well organized.
Korean loose forward trio vs North Harbour were quite physical and were very energetic around the field and their backline were what I call ‘triple-threat’ players. So they can run, pass or kick. They executed some nice little grubbers and bomb kicks.” he said
The New Zealand team coaches also gained numerous benefits out of the match for their own unions and players too.
“It was good for our club boys to take a step up both in pace [and] that organizational stuff around having to be on their toes at set piece time. Some boys that stood out for me in the Counties team were blindside flanker named Irwan Finau, our young tighthead prop Damon Abrahams. We [also] had a young winger (Counties) named Tevita Nabura who will be one to watch for the future.”
QBE North Harbour Coach Tom Coventry said he was pleased with the Harbour performance and with one eye on the Mitre 10 Cup, progress is being made, specifically in squad depth.
“The side was well led by Glenn Preston in the first half, Matt Vaega in the 2nd, and the first try to Harbour came off the back of 20+ phases, proving continuity and patience is being well drilled into the side.” he said
17th May: A Rain Soaked Yarrow Stadium
Watch a full replay of the game here: (link)(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGwttJl_rR4)
South Korea went down 45-15 to a strong Taranaki Invitational XV side that scored seven tries on to win comfortably on a wet and cold Wednesday night at Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth. Taranaki development rugby coach Ngatai Walker told the Taranaki Daily News he was impressed with some of the tries South Korea scored saying “I just thought it was great for [our] club players to have an opportunity like that,”
Chief Executive of Taranaki Rugby Football Union, Michael Collins, was also full of praise for the Korean Rugby team: “They were extremely well drilled fast and skill full. I think that they would have found the conditions difficult. New Plymouth had experienced 48 hours of rain and the pitch was wet and slippery. In the second half the Korean team scored some superb tries when they used their speed and skill to get on the outside of the Taranaki Invitational XV.”
Coaches and Managers Reaction to the Tour
“I think it’s awesome for our players to be able to play against an International team from a different part of the world. It’s a different brand of rugby. To have an International team visit us and play against our wider training group boys is bloody awesome.”
Counties Manukau Steelers Coach, Grant Henson
“The opportunity for our players to test themselves against an international team is fantastic for their development. The Korean team will get better and better the more games they are able to play. They demonstrated tonight that they are a well-coached team. The tactical learnings that they would have taken out of tonight’s game will hopefully stand them in good stead for their upcoming test matches.”
Chief Executive of Taranaki Rugby Football Union, Michael Collins,
“Awesome for our younger players to get a hit out, especially for some of our Wider Training Squad and Academy players to have a crack against an international side for the first time, and it is great to see the smaller nations touring. Something we would love to reciprocate in the future.”
North Harbour Coach, Tom Coventry
“Playing against NZ opposition is teaching us things that will not learn from playing in Asia and it is providing our players with a confidence and belief that if we play to our strengths, we can overcome size and match the physicality.”
South Korean Coach, John Walters,
“For Young boys everything was new and playing against different types of rugby player was bit shocking but they learned how to deal with it and got confidence.”
South Korean Manager, Yu Jin Hyuk
storey by :Owen McCaffrey
Asia Rugby Live
Watch the Next Match Live:
May 27th, 2017:
Korea vs Hong Kong
In Korea: KBSN Sports (12 Noon ) (+9 GMT)
In Hong Kong And Asia: www.rugbypass.com (11 Am Hong Kong)
In New Zeland: Rugby Channel 64 : SKY (New Zealand 3 PM)
In rest of the world : FACEBOOK LIVE www.Facebook.com/Asia.Rugby