Hong Kong national rugby union team

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Hong Kong
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s) Dragons
Emblem Chinese dragon
Union Hong Kong Rugby Union
Head coach Leigh Jones
Captain Nick Hewson
Most caps David Lewis (55)
Top scorer Rowan Varty (120)
Top try scorer Rowan Varty (24)
Home stadium Hong Kong Football Club Stadium
First colours
Second colours
World Rugby ranking
Current 22 (as of 11 July 2016)
Highest 22 (2016)
Lowest 34 (2010)
First international
Hong Kong 11–5 Australian Universities
(1934)
Biggest win
Hong Kong 164–13 Singapore
(27 October 1994)
Biggest defeat
Japan 94–5 Hong Kong
(22 May 2010)
World Cup
Appearances 0
Website www.hkrugby.com

The Hong Kong national rugby union team, nicknamed the Dragons, represent Hong Kong in international rugby union. Hong Kong is one of the better rugby sides in Asia outside of Japan, and has consistently made the repechages of the Rugby World Cup qualifying. Rugby union in Hong Kong is administered by the Hong Kong Rugby Union since 1952, and competes annually in the Asia Rugby Championship.

Hong Kong has one of the oldest rugby traditions in Asia, having been played there since the 19th century, when British colonists arrived in Hong Kong and brought the sport with them. For a long time, rugby union in Hong Kong was traditionally associated with Hong Kong's British-descended, English-speaking class, but since the 1990s there has been extensive efforts to integrate the game to the Cantonese-speaking community, with a degree of success; the first of these players being "Rambo" Leung Yeung Kit. Hong Kong have improved in form recently, having finished in second place in the ARC in 2011, 2014, and 2015, and made it to the repechage of the 2015 Rugby World Cup qualifying, though lost to Uruguay 24 to 3.

History[edit]

Early history[edit]

According to old newspapers, rugby union in Hong Kong dates back to the late 1870s, which would establish Hong Kong as perhaps the oldest rugby playing nation in Asia. The players during this era were all British sailors and army/navy men, as well as police and merchant men. The first secretary of rugby in Hong Kong was Jock McGregor.[1]

The first fixtures which predate the creation of the modern Hong Kong Rugby Union in 1952 took place from 1924 to 1949. An unofficial interport team from Hong Kong played Shanghai on various dates from 1924 to 1949, both teams being composed entirely of British expatriates living in said port cities; these fixtures ceased after the establishment of Communist rule in mainland China.[2] In 1934, a Hong Kong team played against an Australia Universities team, running out victors 11 to 5.

After the establishment of modern Chinese borders, which before greyed the exact control a union had over territory in China, the Hong Kong Rugby Union was established in 1952; the continuation of British rule in China, as well as the flow of immigrants and capital from the mainland, as well as Hong Kong establishing itself as a major port, allowed the game to flourish, albeit mostly restricted to the white British community.

During this time frame the first official fixtures under the union took place. Hong Kong first received a NZ Universities team in 1958, losing 47 to nil. In 1958, Larry Abel, one of Hong Kong's earliest rugby pioneers, established mini rugby programmes and tournaments, and has been played annually to this day.[3] In 1968, Hong Kong was one of the charter nations of the Asian Rugby Football Union, the others being Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, South Korea, and Thailand. Hong Kong won its first official fixture against Japan in 1969, by the score of 24 to 22 in Tokyo.

1970s[edit]

During the 1970s Hong Kong played against many of its other Asian neighbors which had a rugby history, these nations being Japan, South Korea, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Singapore. Hong Kong enjoyed and endured mixed success against its neighbors, finishing second in 1972, only to lose to Japan 16 to nil on home soil.

In 1976, the first ever edition of the Hong Kong Sevens was established, which was pivotal in strengthening the sport in Hong Kong. The concept was discussed by business partners Ian Gow and Tokkie Smith, who wanted to promote a viable rugby product in Asia. The first sponsors of this event were Cathay Pacific and Rothmans International, later replaced by The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. The first sides at this competition were Asian, as well as 2 representative sides from Australia and New Zealand. Soon, the competition grew to include teams from around the world before becoming an official part of the Rugby Sevens calendar.[4]

1980s - 1990s[edit]

During the 1980s, Hong Kong lagged behind Japan and South Korea in terms of competition; Hong Kong was consistently beating other Asian nations but consistently finished in third places, whereas Japan and Hong Kong were consistently vying for the top crown. Hong Kong officially joined the IRB in 1988, allowing Hong Kong to compete in the Rugby World Cup, though they did not enter the competition to qualify for 1991.

The 1990s proved to be a much more fruitful decade for Hong Kong. Hong Kong played its first ever test match against a non-Asia-Pacific opponent in 1992, losing 16 to 23 to the United States in 1992 in Boxer Stadium, San Francisco. In the same year, Hong Kong finally broke through and reached the final of the Asia Rugby Championship, beating South Korea 20 to 13 before losing to Japan 9 to 37.

Some notable players during the 1990s who represented Hong Kong at the international level include Ashley Billington, David Lewis, Leung Yeung Kit, and Chan Fuk Ping.

Hong Kong participated in its first qualifying tournament for the Rugby World Cup in 1995, being drawn with Thailand and Singapore in its group. Hong Kong lost its opening fixture to South Korea 28 to 17 before beating its other opponents; Hong Kong therefore missed out on a spot at the 1995 Rugby World Cup. An impressive feat achieved during this campaign though was Ashley Billington's 10 tries versus Singapore on November 10, 1994, which is the most tries ever scored in a Rugby World Cup qualifier by a single player.

Through the 1990s, Hong Kong began organizing tests against non-Asian opponents. Opponents that were played were Namibia, Papua New Guinea, the United States, and Canada. Hong Kong recorded some famous victories, beating the USA Eagles on three occasions in the decade, including a victory in San Francisco, and beating Canada in 1998.

Despite major improvement in the 1990s, Hong Kong bottomed out in its qualifying group for the 1999 Rugby World Cup; Hong Kong beat its arch-nemesis South Korea, but lost to Japan and were upset by the Chinese Taipei; they finished fourth and missed on direct qualification and a repechage.

2000 - Present, the New Millennium[edit]

In 2000, Hong Kong made history when they played China in 2000; this was the first test Hong Kong played against a team from the Chinese mainland since 1949. The game was played in Shanghai to honor the old rugby matches between Hong Kong and Shanghai. China upset Hong Kong 17 to 15 that day.

Hong Kong struggled somewhat during the early 2000s; In 2001, Hong Kong were once again surprised by China, drawing at 25 points each in Guangzhou. Hong Kong were once again upset by the Chinese Taipei in the 2003 Rugby World Cup qualifiers, losing 20 to 15, although Hong Kong beat China for the first time in that same qualification. Hong Kong lost all its fixtures in the final round of the 2007 Rugby World Cup qualifying campaign, missing out again on repechage or qualification.

The 2011 qualifying campaign was similar; Hong Kong beat both South Korea as well as newcomers Kazakhstan, but lost a crucial fixture to the Arabian Gulf; due to bonus points, Kazakhstan advanced instead of Hong Kong to the repechage.

For the 2015 qualifiers, Hong Kong finally broke through. Hong Kong were drawn into a group including its traditional East Asian rivals Japan and South Korea as well as Sri Lanka and newcomers the Philippines. Hong Kong thrashed South Korea 39 to 6 in Hong Kong, as well as recording a resounding 108 to 0 victory over the Philippines. Hong Kong finished second, and qualified for the repechage as a result. In the repechage versus Uruguay, in Montevideo, Hong Kong held firm for the first half, only trailing 6 to 3; however, Hong Kong indiscipline, coupled with key players not being available meant that Hong Kong collapsed, losing 28 to 3, and bowing out of the qualifiers.

At the end of 2015, Hong Kong hosted the 2015 Cup of Nations, which included 3 other emerging nations: Portugal, Russia, and Zimbabwe. Hong Kong finished second, beating Portugal and Zimbabwe but losing to Russia. In 2016, Hong Kong hired Leigh Jones, Japan's defense coach who played a key role in Japan's epic upset of South Africa in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, to take the role of head coach and high performance in Hong Kong.[5] In order to further build for future success, the HKRU, under the vision of Leigh Jones, launched its first fully professional 15s programme; the goal of the programme is to encourage domestic players to pursue rugby as a profession in Hong Kong, and long-term, create a professional competition akin to Japan's Top League.[6]

Overall[edit]

Top 30 rankings as of 29 Aug 2016[7]
Rank Change* Team Points
1 Steady  New Zealand 96.30
2 Steady  England 89.49
3 Steady  South Africa 86.41
4 Steady  Australia 84.23
5 Steady  Wales 82.49
6 Steady  Ireland 81.67
7 Increase2  Argentina 81.44
8 Decrease1  France 80.75
9 Decrease1  Scotland 80.44
10 Steady  Fiji 75.49
11 Steady  Georgia 75.23
12 Steady  Japan 74.95
13 Steady  Italy 72.23
14 Steady  Samoa 71.37
15 Steady  Tonga 69.47
16 Steady  Romania 68.74
17 Steady  United States 65.60
18 Steady  Canada 64.53
19 Steady  Uruguay 63.56
20 Steady  Namibia 62.78
21 Steady  Russia 61.91
22 Increase2  Kenya 59.28
23 Decrease1  Spain 58.79
24 Increase1  Belgium 57.94
25 Decrease3  Hong Kong 57.84
26 Steady  Germany 57.71
27 Steady  Ukraine 56.95
28 Steady  Chile 55.73
29 Steady  South Korea 54.85
30 Steady  Portugal 54.29
*Change from the previous week

Below is table of the representative rugby matches played by a Hong Kong national XV to 1 May 2016.[8][9][10]

Opponent Played Won Lost Drawn Win % For Aga Diff
Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf Arabian Gulf 6 4 2 0 66.66% 101 115 −14
Australia Australian Universities 2 1 0 1 75.00% 14 8 +6
 Belgium 3 2 1 0 66.66% 58 56 +2
 Brazil 1 1 0 0 100.00% 37 3 +34
 Canada 6 1 5 0 16.66% 99 182 −83
 China 5 3 1 1 60.00% 615 65 +59
 Chinese Taipei 18 12 5 1 66.66% 638 278 +360
 Czech Republic 1 0 1 0 0.00% 5 17 −12
 England XV 1 0 1 0 0.00% 0 26 −26
 Fiji 3 0 3 0 0.00% 33 155 −122
 France XV 1 0 1 0 0.00% 6 26 −20
 Germany 2 0 2 0 0.00% 27 58 −41
 Japan 28 5 22 1 17.85% 355 1203 −848
 Japan XV 7 1 6 0 16.66% 74 244 −170
Japan Junior Japan 1 0 1 0 0.00% 5 90 −85
 Kazakhstan 5 4 1 0 80.00% 126 67 +59
 Kenya 1 1 0 0 100.00% 44 17 +27
 Kenya A 1 0 0 1 0.00% 18 24 -6
 Malaysia 8 7 0 1 87.50% 329 41 +288
 Netherlands 2 0 1 1 0.00% 10 25 -15
New Zealand New Zealand U–23 1 0 1 0 0.00% 0 47 -47
New Zealand New Zealand Universities 4 0 4 0 0.00% 17 113 -96
 Norway 1 1 0 0 100.00% 59 17 +42
 Papua New Guinea 2 2 0 0 100.00% 28 21 +7
 Portugal 1 1 0 0 100.00% 13 6 +6
 Russia 3 0 3 0 0.00% 51 99 -48
 Scotland XV 1 0 1 0 0.00% 6 42 -36
 Singapore 11 9 2 0 81.81% 506 97 +409
 South Korea 28 12 16 0 24.85% 621 701 -80
 Sri Lanka 8 8 0 0 100.00% 349 78 +271
 Thailand 8 6 2 0 75.00% 283 87 +196
 Tunisia 2 1 1 0 50.00% 34 41 -7
 United Arab Emirates 5 5 0 0 100.00% 325 65 +285
 Uruguay 1 0 1 0 0.00% 3 28 -25
 United States 7 4 3 0 57.14% 191 152 +39
 Wales XV 1 1 0 0 0.00% 3 57 -54
 Zimbabwe 2 2 0 0 100.00% 52 18 +34
Total 188 94 88 6 50.00% 5125 4369 +756

Tournament history[edit]

Rugby World Cup[edit]

World Cup record World Cup Qualification record
Year Round P W D L F A P W D L F A
AustraliaNew Zealand 1987 Not invited -
United KingdomRepublic of IrelandFrance 1991 Did not enter Did not enter
South Africa 1995 Did not qualify 3 3 0 1 354 67
Wales 1999 Did not qualify 3 1 0 2 39 88
Australia 2003 Did not qualify 4 3 0 1 81 42
France 2007 Did not qualify 4 2 0 2 79 243
New Zealand 2011 Did not qualify 4 2 0 2 65 133
England 2015 Did not qualify 9 5 0 4 333 201
Japan 2019 To be determined To be determined
Total 0/8 0 0 0 0 0 0 27 16 0 11 951 774

Asian Rugby Championship[edit]

Asian Rugby Championship record
Year Round P W D L F A
Hong Kong 1972 Runner-up 3 2 0 1 35 22
Sri Lanka 1974 Fifth place 3 1 0 2 43 61
Malaysia 1978 Fifth place 3 0 1 2 9 26
Taiwan 1980 Third place 4 3 0 1 231 51
Singapore 1982 Third place 4 3 0 1 76 41
Japan 1984 Fifth place 3 1 0 2 67 70
Hong Kong 1988 Third place 4 3 0 1 61 76
Sri Lanka 1990 Third place 4 2 0 2 93 56
Hong Kong 1992 Runners up 4 3 0 1 156 66
Malaysia 1994 Third place 4 3 0 1 354 67
Taiwan 1996 Third place 4 3 0 1 298 49
Singapore 1998 Third place 3 1 0 2 39 88
Japan 2000 Forth place 3 0 0 3 47 136
Thailand 2002 Third place 3 1 0 2 50 85
Hong Kong 2004 Third place 2 1 0 1 75 47
Hong Kong 2006–07 Third place 2 0 0 2 8 75
Hong KongJapanKazakhstanQatarSouth KoreaUnited Arab Emirates 2008 Third place 4 2 0 2 96 154
Hong KongJapanKazakhstanSingaporeSouth Korea 2009 Fourth place 4 1 0 3 110 126
BahrainHong KongJapanKazakhstanSouth KoreaUnited Arab Emirates 2010 Third place 4 2 0 2 65 133
Hong KongJapanKazakhstanSri LankaUnited Arab Emirates 2011 Runners-up 4 3 0 1 155 61
Hong KongJapanKazakhstanSouth KoreaUnited Arab Emirates 2012 Third place 2 2 0 2 159 98
Hong KongJapanPhilippinesSouth KoreaUnited Arab Emirates 2013 Third place 4 2 0 2 134 108
Hong KongJapanPhilippinesSouth KoreaSri Lanka 2014 Runners-up 4 3 0 1 196 65
Hong KongJapanSouth Korea 2015 Runners-up 4 1 1 2 64 111
Total 0 titles 83 43 2 38 2618 1872

Players[edit]

Current squad[edit]

Hong Kong's squad for the 2016 Asian Rugby Championship.[11]

Head Coach: Wales Leigh Jones

Notable former players[edit]

The Hong Kong Rugby Union has inducted 16 players into its Hall of Fame as part of its Roll of Honour. Some of these players include;

  • Larry Abel, pioneer of youth rugby in Hong Kong.
  • Ashley Billington, wing who holds the record for most tries scored in an international match.
  • Rambo Leung Yeung Kit, first Chinese player to represent Hong Kong at international level.
  • David Lewis, most capped player for Hong Kong at 55 appearances.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Hong Kong Rugby Union". Asia Rugby. Retrieved 2 May 2016. 
  2. ^ "The History of Sport Played in China's Treaty Ports". http://www.treatyportsport.com. Retrieved 2 May 2016.  External link in |website= (help)
  3. ^ "Hong Kong Rugby Roll of Honour". Hong Kong Rugby Union. Retrieved 2 May 2016. 
  4. ^ Signes, Emil. "History of the Hong Kong Sevens". Rugby7.com. Retrieved 2 May 2016. 
  5. ^ Porteous, James (18 January 2016). "Leigh Jones helped mastermind Japan's stunning Rugby World Cup campaign – now he aims to do the same for Hong Kong". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2 May 2016. 
  6. ^ "Hong Kong Rugby Union launches first fully professional 15s programme". hongkong.coconuts.co. Hong Kong cocounuts.co. 24 March 2016. Retrieved 2 May 2016. 
  7. ^ "World Rankings". World Rugby. Retrieved 29 August 2016. 
  8. ^ Hong Kong rugby stats
  9. ^ "Hong Kong International Rugby Results". www.rugbyinternational.net. Retrieved 1 May 2016. 
  10. ^ "Hong Kong Results". RugbyData. Retrieved 1 May 2016. 
  11. ^ "Three new faces in squad to face Chiefs as Hong Kong prepare for Asian championship". South China Morning Post. 23 April 2016. Retrieved 2 May 2016. 

External links[edit]

Awards
Preceded by
Hong Kong national women's table tennis team
Hong Kong Sports Stars Award
Team Only Sport

2004
Succeeded by
Sun Hei