'Knights' savour first day's play as they learn basics of the game

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 March, 2010, 12:00am

Calgary University students and sports fans Kyle May, 22, and Braden Klein, 23 - who dressed up as knights at the Sevens yesterday - missed out when the Canadian city hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 1988; they were not even born.

So both men, based in Hong Kong, were determined to watch as much of the action as possible 'wherever the action was being telecast', as their home nation claimed 14 gold medals at last month's Vancouver Winter Olympics.

They cannot believe their luck at studying for a semester at Hong Kong University (HKU) at the same time as the Sevens.

Klein said: 'As we're students and on a budget, we're making a statement about recycling; we made these 'Beer Knight' outfits ourselves for the Sevens. We'd never played rugby and didn't know much about it before we came to Hong Kong.'

May said: 'We were playing soccer in the university grounds when Vincent Lai, coach for HKU, asked us to play. Now we're hooked; it's such an energetic game.'

They were clearly enjoying the banter of a good rugby friendship as they soaked up the atmosphere in the South Stand on the first day of the Sevens.

Lai may well have been on the pitch playing this weekend but for a lower-back injury, while playing under 19s rugby, which put paid to his rugby career. But he can still talk a good game.

' In the last five years, the Hong Kong team has improved enormously. Before their skills were in certain areas; now the whole team has all-round skills. They have speed, stamina and composure. Asians are sometimes physically smaller than other players, so they've got to try a lot harder and work at strength and conditioning,' Lai said.

Klein and May believe that Lai is far stronger than they are. 'He runs us around; he just needs to find the female version of Yau Ming to marry and start making the Hong Kong Sevens team for the Olympics and beyond,' Klein joked.