It’s been three months since Hong Kong’s victory over Korea and subsequent gutsy performance against Tonga, and now the Hong Kong Men’s XV are back, recharged and ready for the next stop in their Rugby World Cup 2023 journey – the Final Qualification Tournament in Dubai next month.
Held from 6-18 November 2022, four teams from around the world will square off in a round robin format, with the team who secures the most points booking that coveted final spot to France 2023, joining Wales, Australia, Fiji and Georgia in Pool C.
Whilst the Hong Kong coaching team have had a succession of logistical challenges off the back of the pandemic, they are quietly confident that the squad heading to Dubai has the depth to cause a few surprises. There’s a mix of fresh faces and grizzled veterans at the ready – experienced players Josh Hrstich, James Cunningham, Bryn Phillips, and Alex Post will offer a steady hand and some exciting infrastructure for Head Coach Lewis Evans to work with, while a crop of up-and-comers will be looking to make their mark, having enjoyed a full pre-season and some good game time with their respective clubs.
After a well-publicised shift from a full-time to part-time XVs programme as a result of the financial impact of the pandemic, General Manager of Performance Rugby Jo Hull knows that now is the time to recalibrate and set fresh goals: “We are still a high performing Union across all areas of the game, with plenty of opportunities to compete at the highest levels.”
“The young coaching and playing talent we have in Hong Kong is excellent – the focus now is to create a sustainable pathway for Hong Kong performance rugby and the success of the ARC over the summer, as well as the upcoming tournament in Dubai gives us a good platform from which to evaluate and plan for the future”.
Evans has also signalled a positive outlook to the preparations, and the squad has taken a lot of heart from their last international game: “We had a lot to be proud of looking back on the footage from our game against Tonga. The attitude and the energy remained consistent, and we will be looking to take that through to the tournament next month.”
“We know we’ve got it in our armoury to succeed.”
Full details of the Rugby World Cup 2023 qualification pathway can be found here, while ticket news and the full list of fixtures are available on the official Rugby World Cup website.
Hong Kong Men’s XV Travelling Squad: Ashton HYDE, Alexander POST, Ben HIGGINS, Bryn PHILLIPS, Charles HIGSON-SMITH, Callum McFeat SMITH, Faizal SOLOMONA PENESA, Glyn HUGHES, Gregor McNEISH Gregor RAMAGE, Guy SPANTON, Ian ETHERIDGE, Jack COMBES, Jack NEVILLE, James CUNNINGHAM, James SAWYER, Jamie LAUDER, Jamie PINCOTT, John McCORMICK-HOUSTON, Joshua HRSTICH, Lam Jak Shing, Luke VAN DER SMIT, Matthew WORLEY, Mark PRIOR, Nathan DE THIERRY, Nikolas CUMMING, Patrick JENKINSON, Sean TAYLOR, Tom HILL, Zacceus CINNAMOND