HONG KONG RUGBY UNION
Mid Season 2016/17
IN ASSOCIATION WITH
Contents Premiership Mid-Season summary.....................................................................................02 - 03 Men’s Premiership................................................................................................................04 - 05 Women’s Premiership..........................................................................................................06 - 07 A look in RugbyPass.com.....................................................................................................08 HKRU Upcoming Events......................................................................................................10 HKRU Community Foundation...........................................................................................11 Hong Kong Sevens Corporate Hospitality.........................................................................12
It has been an exciting season in the RugbyPass. com Men’s Premiership. As predicted the defending champions Societe Generale Valley have maintained strong form in the first half of the season, sitting pretty at the top of the Premiership table on equal points with rivals Bloomberg HK Scottish. The two sides have been seesawing for first place all season. Valley reclaimed the table lead only when the two faced off in the last match of 2016 in a convincing 25-6 win over the Scottish. It was an important win for Valley as the two teams were head-to-head on the points table. Scottish have rebounded strongly after last season’s injury woes, with a strong and increasingly deep player roster. The Shek Kip Mei team have invested much in their player development over the years with their junior club ties, and the investment looks to be beginning to pay off. Kowloon RFC sit third on the table, trailing Scottish by only seven points. The Yau Ma Tei club looked to blaze a trail into the Christmas break with a four-game winning streak, only to be upset in a 17-11 loss to Natixis HKFC in the final week of play. While Natixis HKFC were the convincing winners in that match, they sit fourth on the ladder, ahead of Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers who opened the season strongly with their first win in two seasons against Kowloon. Rounding up the Men’s Premiership is Herbert Smith Freehills HKCC, who have struggled to find consistent form due to injury woes. The Hong Kong Women’s rugby competition continues to grow in leaps and bounds, with KPMG as title sponsor of this season’s Women’s Domestic League. The Happy Valley local grudge match between Societe Generale Valley Black Ladies and CPM Gai Wu Falcons continues to provide gripping rugby, with the two teams ones again battling it out for the top two spots. The traditional rivals are equal on points, both on 29, with the Valley Black Ladies narrowly in front on differentiation of 28 points. Nipping at their heels is Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers on 20 points. Natixis HKFC Ice maintain the fourth position. SCAA First Pacific CWB Phoenix and Kowloon Ladies hold fifth and six position on the table respectively, while local favorites Comvita City Sparkle round out the ladder, gaining valuable top-tier game experience along the way.
PREMIERSHIP RUGBY MID-SEASON SUMMARY
MEN’S PREMIERSHIP The Men’s Premiership heads towards the pointy end of the season and it has been an exciting battle at the top of the competition ladder, with much more on the way as the top four contenders seek to make their mark running into the finals. This year’s caliber of play has clearly benefited from the Elite Rugby Program and while the top teams from last year’s competition have resumed their places at the upper reaches of the ladder, there is still a sense that much more is about to be revealed in the latter quarter of the season.
Societe Generale Valley
Bloomberg HK Scottish
Sitting at the top of the table is again Societe Generale Valley. Not unexpectedly the men from Happy Valley have so far valiantly held onto the top spot. It has not been an easy task, facing stiff competition from the likes of Bloomberg HK Scottish, and Valley only regained the lead in the last match of 2016. “We need to take each game as they come. A lot of it depends on form, so we need to focus on our performance, and keep the pressure on the opposition. In the last game leading into Christmas, we really showed our intensity, and when the pack moves, we do well.” Says Head Coach Kelly.
Leading the charge against Valley are Bloomberg HK Scottish, who have been trading top spot over the first half of the season. They entered the season with a string of injuries, but have since recovered and are real threats, with increasing depth in players. As the season nears to the playoffs, Bloomberg Scottish find themselves equal on points with Valley, but do they have enough in them to take the top spot? They will need to maintain their form for the rest of the season and perform very well to catch up on points, or hope their rivals concede a few losses. This is a tight competition, so watch this space.
Kowloon sit third on the table, having suffered from a lack of consistency. Standout players have included Jack Neville who sits is in the Top Point scorer competition. “I wouldn’t exactly say everything has gone according to plan, but I feel like we’ve improved and are headed in the right direction. We’ve developed well and have continued to improve throughout the season so far, so I’m really pleased with the boys. We need to maintain consistency and intensity, but the nature of the Hong Kong game does have its constraints, some of the boys are full time players, and some of them have to work, so it is about maximizing time with the lads when we can.” Says Head Coach James Scaysbrook.
Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers
Herbert Smith Freehills HKCC
Holding fourth place on points differential is Natixis HKFC, who have been patchy so far this season, but have displayed periods of brilliance in a number of games. “In the lead up to the Xmas break we began to get in tune and put together a more complete performance. We need to compete and execute for 80 minutes. We still have plenty of work to do.” Says Head Coach Phil Bailey. The acquisition of Nate De Theirry at number 10 and the leadership and experience from both Jevon Groves and Tom Isaacs has been outstanding for Football Club, and the front row has been a force to be reckoned with from day one.
Things haven’t gone according to plan for the Tigers. A few things have conspired against them including a long list of injuries which has led to a lack of cohesion. There is no lack of motivation among the team however, and the holiday rest period should see the return of a number of injured players. The depth in the team means that the Tigers are only one game away from being a force to be reckoned with. “The boys are motivated to make a dent in the competition. We have injury recoveries and depth in the team, so there is a healthy level of internal competition for spots on the field. Consistency in the players is required for us to get to that next level, that is the only way we can maintain the same combinations every week.” Says Head Coach Craig Stewart.
Herbert Smith Freehills HKCC sits at sixth place after the Christmas break. “We are disappointed with our current position and whilst there have been some extenuating circumstances we would expect more from a club like this.” Having said that, the competition is of such calibre that they are not far away from being a significant threat to all the sides. “We just need to firstly have more fit and healthy players to choose from and then some clarity around our game direction and management. This is all starting to come and there is a positive vibe within the camp.” According to Head Coach Kevin West.
team levels, and Jones is reasonably confident that the Premiership League is already there. There are technical elements of the programme, but it isn’t necessarily just about being scientific either, says Jones, who is a Doctor of Sports Psychology. “It is the simple things,” says Jones, “We aim to have everyone back on their feet in three seconds after a tackle, and five seconds to get back into position. We aim to play the 130% rule. That means playing at 130% of the speed of other National teams, teams such as Japan.”
Premiership League Professionalism Housed at the Elite Rugby Training Centre (ERTC) at The Technological and Higher Education Institute of Hong Kong, the Elite Rugby Programme (ERP) is designed for the best of the best of Hong Kong rugby. The purpose of the programme is to bring professionalism to the city’s representative fifteenman game, providing a full-time avenue for professional athletes. However, there is a wider, overarching goal of the ERP that ultimately aims to bridge the gap in performance levels between the domestic Premiership competition and the Hong Kong representative team through the transfer of skills from the ERP players to their respective club sides. “In the last three games immediately before the Christmas break, we saw the positive effects of the ERP programme on the Premiership competition. After only 12 months, the transfer of
skills saw a marked improvement in the level of play in both skills execution and intensity.” Said Leigh Jones, Head of the Elite Rugby Programme. This is a positive sign given 12 months is a comparatively short period of time for the upkick in skills that professionalism provides. “Having spoken to other national-side coaches from the 1995 era, when rugby became a global professional sport, it took a good two years for a positive impact to be seen on and off the field,” said Jones. One of the main goals of the programme was to bring the skills and intensity of play to within reach of the calibre of National
The programme combines scientific and simple principles, but oftentimes, it boils down to players taking ownership and commitment to the work, says Jones. The programme was never meant to have a top-down approach. ERP players are expected to take these skills and techniques they learn at ERTC and bring it back to their clubs. Consequently it is equally important that players are not only technically talented, but also of the right mind set to train as a professional athlete. When Jones returned from Japan as part of the Eddie Jones’ coaching staff during the Rugby World Cup, he made the point to identify leaders within the ERP squad, focussing on changing habits and behaviours, such as maintaining the correct diet and training with intent so that the players would take it back to their clubs. The idea was to implement an education process to bridge the skill and intensity levels of the Premiership competition, as well as the professionalism of the game. According to Jones, the domestic competition is already benefiting.
WOMEN’S PREMIERSHIP It has been an exciting season for the KPMG Women’s Premiership. The thrilling rivalry of the traditional top two teams and the arrival of a new contender, gives a renewed sense of competition. The addition of a new team also brings with it the chance to progress women’s rugby talent in Hong Kong. The last quarter of the season will surely see some exciting new developments. As we enter into the second half of the season we spoke to Jo Hull, Women’s Rugby Performance Manager, and Sam Feausi, Women’s Rugby Development Manager to get their perspectives of the fastest growing game in Hong Kong. (continued on Page 7)
CPM Gai Wu Falcons
Societe Generale Valley Black Ladies
The CPM Gai Wu Falcons have maintained their competitive position at the top of the table as expected, tied with Societe Generale Valley Black Ladies for top spot. The team has progressed well but consistency is key during games against more menacing opponents. “We have a quality squad, all our players are focused and capable enough to fulfill their duties. I would like them to build more confidence and believe in their abilities. We need to stop overthinking things, especially when playing against teams like Valley. We also need to improve our play at the breakdown.” Says Coach Sailo Lai ”Melody Li’s performance has been outstanding this season, possessing good attacking skills which brings good momentum for the team.”
Last Seaon’s champions, Valley Black Ladies have seen a steady progression to the top over the last few seasons, and have dominated so far in the 2016/17 season. Still undefeated, they lead by a huge points differential at the top of the ladder. But it hasn’t been all smooth sailing. “Player management and positional selection have been difficult this year with so many players that play multiple positions. The nature of HK workloads is also difficult to manage for games and training, however the ladies have faired well so far.” Says Coach James Elliot. “The team includes include 6 Open and 3 U18 Hong Kong players, so there are many standouts; Captain Olivia Coady is a dominant force in every match and leads by example all over the field.”
The Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers have been competitive this season, they have played eight games so far, with five wins and three losses. They join the top of the ladder at third place, behind by only 14 competition points. Tigers presented a challenge to the dominant CPM Gai Wu Falcons early in the season, conceding only 12 points. Tigers continue to widen the gap between their next nearest competitors, Natixis HKFC Ice, and should romp into the finals, going from strength to strength each passing week.
Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers
Natixis HKFC Ice
SCAA First Pacific CWB Phoenix
Natixis HKFC Ice sit at fourth place on the competition ladder. They have gained 21 competition points, not far off their third place rivals, Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers. They opened the season with a 21 point win over newcomers Comvita City Sparkle, but have also lost to the Tigers, conceding over 52 points, and to CPM Gai Wu Falcons by 60 points in earlier matches. The second half of the season has not been kind to them either, losing out again to Gai Wu by another 70 points in the most recent clash. Football club will need to improve their defensive efforts if they are to be true contenders for the title this season, but anything can happen in this league, and only four points behind Tigers, the tide could easily turn their way.
The Causeway Bay girls have seen mixed results so far this season, with convincing wins over Kowloon Ladies and Comvita City Sparkle, but also convincing losses too. SCAA First Pacific CWB Phoenix sit in fifth place on the competition ladder. “To date I am very satisfied with the improvements as the majority of players were playing in National League 1 last season. Each game we are seeing the fruits of our hard work at training. Our scrum has improved significantly over the season but we still have plenty to work on. We need to be more aggressive in our lineouts both in attack and defense. We also need to work hard on our tackling and contact areas especially around mauls, as well as our attacking support.” says coach Ocean Chow.
The season has started off a bit slower than anticipated for the women from Kowloon RFC, both in terms of performance and team improvements, but this has been understandable given the dramatic changes seen since last season. The team has seen the addition of several new players as well as new captain Yan Tsang, who returns after a full season off due to injury. The tail end of the season will be a valuable proving ground for the team as the games become more intense. “I can see there has been quite a big improvement in terms of confidence and mentality but confidence will continue to be important for us as we are always smaller in size than the other teams,” says Jonathan Ho, coach of the Kowloon Ladies team.
Comvita City Sparkle
Women’s Game a shining light
Everyone loves an underdog, and the Comvita City Sparkles have certainly shined in their opening season in the KPMG Women’s Premiership, gaining significant support from the Hong Kong rugby community this season. The newcomers have struggled a little with the intensity in their first season in the top division but have also made significant progress with each game. “The team is progressing in terms of the mentality and physicality that comes with this league. The women are new to this competition so this has been a period of adjustment for them. I expect them to lift after the break, and perform better. In the short term they need to perform under pressure but in the long run, mentality is key,” says coach Fung Kai-hang.
There is still a huge gap in the level of skills and intensity between club levels and the Hong Kong representative team, but Hull is hopeful in what she has seen in the new league structure and the introduction of the Super Series, the intermediary representative competition that slots between the Premiership league and Hong Kong’s representative side.
in a couple more years.” Jo continued.
“The new Super Series has been important, and it will continue to be important in the effort to bridge the skills gap in the women’s game. In the past, the gap was just too wide. Together with the new competition structure, it really enables the development of the women’s game. There has been a real dynamism in the women’s Premiership League. The players are improving, and we are seeing a renewed sense of competition too. Tigers are on the way up, and City will be coming through
There are more tournaments and programs on offer this season which provide more playing opportunities for everyone which is key. This growth is not just seen on the pitch, but off the pitch as well with more women joining coaching courses and referee courses which is positive for the game.”
“We have had good growth with the Women’s and Girl’s game in Hong Kong. Lately we have seen more tertiary players entering the game, with many of these players eventually play in our senior domestic leagues which also adds to the growth.
Jo Hull - HKRU Women’s Performance Manager
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HKRU UPCOMING EVENTS
GRAND CHAMPIONSHIP MARCH 2017
CATHAY PACIFIC/HSBC HONG KONG SEVENS APRIL 2017
ASIA RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP JUNE 2017
WOMENâ€™S RUGBY WORLD CUP 2017 AUGUST 2017
ASIA RUGBY SEVENS SERIES SEPTEMBER 2017
CATHAY PACIFIC/HSBC HONG KONG SEVENS LONG LUNCH OCTOBER 2017
CUP OF NATIONS NOVEMBER 2017
THE RUGBY BALL NOVEMBER 2017
The HKRU Community Foundation was established in March 2013 with the aim of providing a separate identifiable vehicle to manage the HKRU’s charitable activities. This was done to achieve the dual objectives of promoting the positive influence the HKRU has on the community and encouraging corporate and social responsibility funds to assist in these programmes to allow their continuation and expansion. The Foundation aims to be a regional leader in the area of sport-for-development, using rugby as a medium to tackle social issues and effect change. We work together with the likes of Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, Chinese University Department of Social Work, the British Council, VIVA and Active Communities Network to develop our programmes, and then partner with a core group of NGOs to deliver them, focusing on the areas of health, education, disability, juvenile crime, and social inclusion. For each programme we then seek corporate support, not just in terms of sponsorship dollars but also volunteer staff engagement. The majority of the Foundation's work is delivered by Stuart Gunn, the Union’s Inclusive Rugby & Child Welfare Officer, assisted by the Community Department staff and 6 young men who have come through the Operation Breakthrough programme and are now on a 12 month apprenticeship with the Union, sponsored by Ageas.
SOCIAL INCLUSION Po Leung Kuk
The Foundation’s “Tackling Life” programme has introduced rugby to PLK youngsters in the residential care centre, learning centres and 17 primary schools – in total over 3,500 students. The programme stresses positive values and key life skills and is supported by Savills, Macquarie Bank and KPMG.
Supported by Societe Generale, the “Chance to Play” programme supports this local charity’s ethos of empowering at-risk children by offering an opportunity to participate in rugby to kids from the more disadvantaged areas of our community.
DISABILITY & HEALTH Deaf Rugby
The Foundation runs a rugby programme with students from two local deaf schools and in partnership with the Hong Kong Association for the Deaf and supported by Standard Chartered Bank. In 2014 a relationship was formed with deaf Cambodian youngsters from the Krousar Thmey charity, with competitions held in Hong Kong in 2014 and 2016 and in Cambodia in 2015.
Special Needs Schools
The Foundation works with a number of special needs schools in Hong Kong for children with mental or physical challenges. These programmes focus on rugby and outdoor activities, and our coaching staffare receiving training support from the Social Work Department of Chinese University.
EDUCATION Hong Kong’s Rugby Spirit
The Foundation’s newest initiative, supported by UBS, combines teaching local primary school students the basics of touch rugby with promotion of key values such as Determination, Respect, Responsibility, National Identity, Commitment, Honesty and Teamwork.
Rugby English Action Learning (REAL)
The Foundation has been offering REAL with the support of the Education Bureau since 2007 to local primary schools. Students build confidence in English communication by creating an immersion environment with sessions run by native English speaking coaches, and a specially created syllabus. Over 30 schools each year participate, with a long waiting list!
YOUTH CRIME PREVENTION Don’t Drop the Ball
This programme, supported by Standard Chartered Bank, was launched in 2008 in conjunction with the Police Crime Prevention Bureau, and encourages children to participate in sport and live a healthy lifestyle. 35 schools in the New Territories participate each year and there is a waiting list to join.
Operation Breakthrough If you’re interested in becoming involved with the with our Community Foundation please contact - firstname.lastname@example.org
The Foundation supports the rugby section of this police-led charity that uses sport as a medium to help at-risk youth make better life choices. Operation Breakthrough is also supported by the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation www.breakthrough.hk
PARTNERS & SPONSORS The Hong Kong Rugby Union is proud to be sponsored by and work in partnership with the companies you see below. We will work together to put your name in front of an ever-growing community of rugby enthusiasts through either the performance end of the game, the mini/junior sections, our numerous outreach community programmes, media partnerships or a little bit of everything; and in doing so help you achieve the returns on investment and objectives that you desire.
For more information or to find out how you can become a Sponsor or Partner of the Hong Kong Rugby Union please visit our website.