HK in Sevens heaven

HK in Sevens heaven


Raef Morrison (centre, with ball) in action against Chinese-Taipei
Raef Morrison (centre, with ball) in action against Chinese-Taipei
Photos: Felix Wong/SCMP
The Hong Kong team won last Sunday's inaugural Asian School Boys Rugby Sevens Championship, but their celebrations were tinged with sadness.

The team - one of eight alongside China, Malaysia, Guam, Singapore, Cambodia, Chinese-Taipei and Thailand - remained unbeaten throughout the tournament, held at King's Park, in Ho Man Tin.

Sadly, fewer than half the squad's 12 players will be able to compete for Hong Kong at next month's Asian Youth Games in Nanjing .

Fan Shun-kei, coach of the Hong Kong team, said only four or five of the boys can take part in the Games. Some players - including 18-year-old captain Raef Morrison, a graduate of West Island School, who was voted the tournament's Most Valuable Player - will be too old. Others have been omitted because of nationality issues, he said.

"When we submitted our proposed final team list to the Sports Federation & Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China, we were told some players were ineligible to play for Hong Kong," Fan said. "The Asian Youth Games is similar to the Asian Games, which means there are tighter controls over athletes' nationalities.

"It will affect the overall strength of the team in Nanjing. But I hope those who go will do well."

At last Sunday's championship, Hong Kong dominated most of their matches, played over two, seven-minute halves.

Hong Kong were drawn with China, Malaysia and Guam in Group A. They first beat Malaysia 33-7, then crushed China 43-0, before they thrashed Guam 53-0 to reach the semi-finals. The home team proved far too strong for Group B semi-finalists Thailand, too, beating them 53-0.

However, things didn't go all their own way in the final against Group B's top-rated team, Chinese-Taipei.

Chinese-Taipei's Chang Lun-wei surprised the home side by scoring the first try to put his team ahead 5-0. But this seemed to spur Hong Kong into action, with captain Raef, Dominic Lam, of Sha Tin College, and Kevin Field, of South Island School, all scoring tries, as Hong Kong finished the first half leading 17-5.

After the break, Raef - who played prop - and Chinese-Taipei's Chen Po-ting each scored a try, but Hong Kong held on comfortably to win 24-12.

Hugo Chui Ho-ching, 17, a Form Four student at St Stephen's College - the only full-blooded Chinese player on the Hong Kong team - hopes to play in Nanjing. "I was nervous before the start of the tournament," he said. "But once we'd kicked off and showed we were playing really well as a team, I was able to relax."

Fan said: "The team did pretty well and were able to follow the game plan successfully throughout."

The other team members were Daniel Archer, of Renaissance College; Joshua Clery, of West Island School; Jack Combes, Jack Fernyhough and Tomos Howells, of King George V School; Michael Coverdale of Island School; and Timothy Evans and Hugo Stiles, of French International School.

In Nanjing, Hong Kong are drawn to play China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines in the group stage. Teams from Japan, Chinese-Taipei, Korea, Thailand, and Kazakhstan are also playing at the showpiece, which starts on August 17.

Also, see Kevin's previews of Hong Kong's other representatives to the 2013 Asian Youth Games:

- Athletics
- Badminton
- Fencing
- Football
- Girls' rugby
- Golf
- Handball
- Judo
- Squash
- Swimming
- Table tennis
- Tennis



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