Hong Kong won the first Asia Rugby U18 Girls Sevens Championship in Dubai. They beat Kazakhstan 12-5 in a tense final played before large crowds at the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Dubai tournament.
A strong defensive effort and tries from Jessica Eden and Hebe Talles proved the difference in the showcase game. The cup win capped a clean performance for the squad, who were undefeated in six games across the six-team, three-day round-robin competition.
The best is yet to come for the group according to coach Sam Feausi, who is also the Women's Rugby Development Manager at the Hong Kong Rugby Union.
"Most of the players still have time to progress at this level as the majority are just 16 years old," said Feausi, who noted that six of the 12-woman squad are 16, while only two are 18.
It's just the beginning
"It is great to get a result in our first international competition at this level and I think this is only the beginning for this group of players. Hopefully, we can keep them training and playing together for a couple more years at U18s level, before they advance through to the National Age Grade U20s and senior rugby," said Feausi.
Hong Kong dispatched Kazakhstan 22-5 in the first match of the tournament with Feausi identifying the Kazakhs as a likely final opponent.
"Kazakhstan were improving game by game in the tournament, but so were we. They were much stronger come the final but I think we wanted it a bit more at the end of the day," said Feausi, who hailed her charges' composure over the weekend.
We were up for it
"We weren't in awe of the occasion at all, even walking into the stadium in Dubai and into that really charged atmosphere, I could tell the girls were really up for it," Feausi said.
Hong Kong also beat UAE, 59-0, and Sri Lanka, 22-0, on day one, before gutting out a 5-0 win over India, who were also undefeated on the first day. A final 45-0 win over Uzbekistan in the round-robin competition sent Hong Kong through to the final.