Why Hongkonger Liam Herbert chose rugby in HK over football contracts in the UK

Why Hongkonger Liam Herbert chose rugby in HK over football contracts in the UK

The 17-year-old South Island School student has been focused on his dream of playing for the national team, and his hard work is paying off


Rugby is a game of focus for Liam.

Sometimes life throws you a particularly difficult decision, and you have to sacrifice something you love. Playing sport at a high level forced Liam Herbert to choose between rugby and his other favourite sport, football. “I got a contract with some English football teams for football, but gave it up to play rugby in Hong Kong,” he tells Young Post.

The South Island School student channelled his energy into becoming a great rugby player and his focus is paying off. Eleven years after he was first introduced to the game and taught how to play by his big brother, Liam now proudly represents Hong Kong in matches all over the world.

His greatest achievement, he says, was the Hong Kong Rugby Union’s (HKRU) U20 team’s long-awaited triumph at the World Rugby U20 Trophy in Zimbabwe in May this year after months of tough training.

“Hong Kong hadn’t won a match in this tournament in 11 games, and then we beat Zimbabwe,” recalls the 17-year-old.

Look out for South Island School’s Paul Altier at a future Hong Kong Rugby Sevens

The team claimed seventh place after beating the hosts 44-40 in the seventh-place play-off – a strong placing considering many of the experienced players couldn’t play due to injury or exams.

One of Liam’s favourite moments of 2015 was defeating the formidable Scots College of New Zealand and claiming their first Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK) Premier Sevens title. The Kiwis had triumphed the year before, when Hong Kong Sports School placed fifth in the tournament, but the team retaliated fiercely last year and delivered a 31-12 score – boosted by two tries from Liam.

“I made sure I was focused and that I put in all the effort I had. So at the end of the day I had given it my all,” he says, adding Hong Kong’s victory came as a surprise to the whole team, who hadn’t expected to win.

Liam Herbert chose rugby in Hong Kong over football in England.

Before the competition, the usual 15s player had to get his head around 7s game tactics, but he says he “fit in well and was able to play very well in the tournament.”

“We have been improving after every match in this tournament and I am delighted that my boys left with a win. It was a marvellous final and we deserve this trophy,” said Hong Kong Sports School head coach Fan Shun-kei, who coached the U20 team.

Reaching the sevens circuit is Liam’s dream, and an increasing number of victories as part of a strong team keeps him motivated. Mastering this ancient and prestigious sport is no easy feat, but this young player has dedication and skills to boot. According to Liam, the best part of the game is, “Having the freedom to do whatever you want once you have crossed the line – what you do with the ball can affect the whole game.”

Bench notes

What song/movie title best describes you when you’re playing your sport?
All I Ever Wanted by Basshunter, or the movie Dumb and Dumber.

You can have any superpower you choose for 24 hours. What do you choose and how do you use this power?
World peace and care, to make sure everyone is equal in the world

If you could have an unlimited supply of anything, what would it be and why?
Family, because they are the most important thing to me.

10 years in the future, you are a famous athlete. What company do you sign-on as spokesperson for, and what product do you promote?
Nike, to promote their shoes and boots.

What motivates you?
My family

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Talent to boot


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