It’s safe to say that Jack Abbott simply cannot get enough rugby in his life.
The 17-year-old is the captain of the South Island School (SIS) team, and plays for Hong Kong Football Club (HKFC) and the Hong Kong under-20 squad with no plans of slowing down.
“I’ve been playing rugby since I was six years old,” Jack said. “I remember when I was very young my friend had a spare ticket to the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens. I remember watching Fiji win that year, and I just fell in love with the game.”
Jack’s favourite part of rugby is how it’s always a challenge, both mentally and physically. He also loves the “special bonds and friendships forged with teammates after a hard match.”
Now, with his love for the game burning brighter than ever, he plans to continue playing for Hong Kong and become the city’s next big superstar.
“I’m staying in Hong Kong for university as it will allow me to train with the Hong Kong 7s squad at the same time,” he said. “To play at the Hong Kong Sevens has always been a dream for me growing up, and it still is. But now, my ultimate goal is to play in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.”
Jack also wants to play a key role in Hong Kong’s growing rugby culture. “I’m already beginning to push my mates to join rugby at school just to help rugby grow more,” he said.
He’s excited for the future of the sport in Hong Kong, where there is now a good mixture of overseas and local talent.
“The expats coming from professional rugby environments really increased the level of skill in Hong Kong rugby; but now, a lot more locals are showing interest and participating in the sport,” Jack said. “There is definitely room for improvement in terms of facilities, but the Hong Kong Sports Institute and Hong Kong Rugby Union gym are steps in the right direction.”
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Jack is all too aware of the brutal, physical nature of the sport, as he suffered a concussion while playing in the SCC International Sevens tournament in Singapore last month – an injury which kept him off the pitch for a while.
SIS clearly felt his absence, as they lost the inter-school cup final for the first time in four years without their leader. Fortunately, he went back to training full-contact with the HKFC last week.
But injuries aren’t the only setback this young star has had to overcome.
“It may sound clichéd, but I think the biggest challenge would be balancing my time and workload management with school and rugby,” Jack said.
“It’s been hard going away on sports tours and missing class to go to training, then coming back and having to spend my free time catching up with work and all the assignments I’ve missed.
“However, going through this challenge has really helped me develop into a more responsible person off the pitch.”
Jack’s advice to young rugby players is simple: don’t slack off.
“Always push yourself during training and find new ways to develop your game,” he said. “Some people show up to training and do the bare minimum to get by; that won’t get you to where you want to be.”