Hong Kong Sevens

HK young guns keep elite hopes alive

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 June, 2012, 12:00am

Jack Capon kept Hong Kong rugby's hopes of becoming an elite sport at the Sports Institute alive when he scored the match-winning try that allowed his side to remain unbeaten on day one of the Under-20 Asian Sevens Championship in Malaysia yesterday.

Trailing Thailand 14-12 with the hooter already gone, Hong Kong were in desperate straits as they turned over possession for the last move of the game. After the ball was swung the breadth of the pitch twice, burly forward Capon received it 30 metres out and he decided to take the direct route over two defenders to score the try that gave Hong Kong a 17-14 victory.

'Jack got us out of jail. He just ran over two defenders to score the try which allowed us to keep our slate clean on day one. But it is going to be tough tomorrow because in the other pool, Malaysia, China and Japan are all looking good,' Hong Kong coach Alex Gibbs (pictured) said.

After the early scare against the Thais, Hong Kong got better as the preliminary group stage progressed, scoring a convincing 46-0 win over Brunei and a 31-0 victory over Uzbekistan. They have one more group game to complete, against unbeaten Taiwan, but Capon's effort has given them a chance to finish top of the pool.

This will be crucial, as it will theoretically give Hong Kong an easier semi-final today, with the goal being to finish in the top three of the 10-team tournament so as to acquire elite sport status.

'Thanks to Jack, we got the job done today. But the road ahead is going to be difficult. We first have to take care of Taiwan and then win our semi-final, which is going to be the most crucial match of the tournament for us,' Gibbs said.

The lack of match practice - there is only one sevens tournament for schoolboys in Hong Kong - and the fact that most of the players are at university overseas (Capon is at Cardiff University), had left the Josh Peters-led side underdone.

'This opening day was very much a learning experience and we made plenty of mistakes early on and we looked shaky,' Gibbs said. 'But I'm pleased with the way the guys stepped up , especially the younger guys in the squad.'

If Hong Kong finish in the top three in Johor Baharu, rugby sevens will become the first team sport to enter the Sports Institute as an elite discipline since soccer was kicked out nearly two decades ago. This will see rugby receive millions of dollars in funding.