Hard work and a genuine love for the game of rugby is what brought 20-year-old Daniel Archer to the position that he is in today. The former Renaissance College student spoke about his turbulent journey through the ranks of the Hong Kong rugby scene – including being cut from the U14s national squad, only to go on to win the 2013 Youth Asian Games.
Archer is coming fresh off a stunning performance with the U20s Hong Kong Sevens team, who routed top seed Sri Lanka 36-0 in the finals of the 2017 Asia Rugby U20 Sevens tournament held on August 5, and he attributes the win to preparation and training.
“Lots of running, lots of training. Working when you’re tired, really, that’s the game of sevens and that’s the game we love,” said Archer, who plays prop.
The University of British Columbia student first discovered his love for the game at age five. “I played for the DEA Tigers, now called the USRC Tigers,” he explained. “I loved rugby then and I still love it now.”
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Having played for so long in Hong Kong, Archer has had many of the same teammates for a number of years. “After a while, you form a lot of close friendships where you can almost telepathically read each other’s minds and know what the play will be,” he explains.
Archer’s road to success was far from smooth, and he’s experienced many highs and lows through his career. “I was asked to trial for the HK U14 team, but after training more than two months, I was cut right before the tour,” he explained. “This broke my heart as a young boy; watching all my friends represent Hong Kong and not getting the opportunity despite putting in all the hard work.”
But Archer refused to give up, overcoming this setback with relentless dedication and devotion, which earned him a spot on the U16 national team.
Following his latest win, Archer has some useful advice for all athletes: “Honestly, just keep working hard. Keep pushing and pushing,” he said. “Set your goals and keep working towards them. The most important thing is to believe in yourself.”
His focus now is mostly centred on appreciating being able to play the game while he still can.“My only goal is to have fun and enjoy myself,” he said. “That would be my one message for aspiring rugby players: enjoy the game. That’s the most important thing.
“I plan to play until I am no longer enjoying it or my body gives up on me, whichever comes first!”
One of the greatest highlights of his career was winning the gold medal at the 2013 Youth Asian Games. “I was 15 at the time, and the joy of beating Japan – something very few expected us to do – was one of the happiest moments for sure.”
As with many athletes, Archer never would have found the same success without his family. “They brought a young boy to rugby training every Sunday morning for years. It was extreme dedication and I’m grateful for their support.”
Archer believes Hong Kong rugby has a very bright future. “I can see that they’ve started investing more in the rugby scene, even since I left two years ago for university,” he said.
Archer will be unable to play for the U20 team next year as he’ll be too old, but he’s not worried about Team Hong Kong’s chances. “They have a huge programme for young boys stepping up. Only four of us won’t be able [eligible] to play next year, so that’s a huge showing of how big the youth system is,” he explained.
As he continues his journey, young rugby players should look at Archer as proof that you shouldn’t let obstacles keep you from achieving your dreams.