The Hong Kong men’s sevens team won a gold medal in the rugby sevens at the Asian Games, a historic first for our city in this sport at the Games. Hong Kong beat Japan 14-0 in the final in Jakarta, Indonesia on Saturday. It seems third time's the charm for Hong Kong after finishing as runner-up to Japan in both the 2010 and 2014 Asian Games.
Hong Kong beat South Korea in the semi-finals with a firm 19-7, while Japan struggled in their semi-finals against Sri Lanka before finally winning with a 12-10. The final game saw Hong Kong's veteran Salom Yiu Kam-shing come through and score the first try of the match, and his seventh of the weekend, after just 90 seconds. Hong Kong maintained its advantage for the remainder of the half, and was given a bonus when Japan’s Katsuyuki Sakai was sent off during stoppage time.
Hong Kong's Alessandro Nardoni, who made his senior debut in July at the Rugby World Cup Sevens, close out the half with a try. Captain Ben Rimene’s second conversion gave Hong Kong a 14-0 lead at the break.
During the opening minutes of the second half, Japan was short-handed, and both sides traded blows but not scores over the final seven minutes. In the end, Hong Kong ran out the clock and won our city's first ever Asian Games rugby sevens gold medal.
It was Hong Kong's eighth gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games.
“Our defence in the final was excellent and I can’t fault the guys at all. They have just been outstanding all week,” said coach Paul John, joined the Hong Kong Rugby Union in March 2017.
Dai Rees, Chief Rugby Operations Officer at the HKRU, was similarly thrilled with the victory. “It is really an emotional moment,” said Rees. “This is a well deserved moment for all of the hard work that has been put into this programme, by those guys, the coaches, the Union, everyone really."
“We are not often acknowledged as a local sport given rugby’s colonial past," Rees continues, "but to win gold here tonight with our boys, who were born and raised in Hong Kong, on that middle platform with our flag being raised and our anthem being played … It is a special day for Hong Kong Rugby.”
Hong Kong Rugby Union