Rees glad for Cheetahs' 'wake-up call'
Living up to their nickname - the Cheetahs - Zimbabwe out-ran, out-thought and over-powered Hong Kong in the Cup quarter-finals at the Spar International Sevens in Harare yesterday.
Hong Kong were left shell-shocked following a massive 35-7 defeat at the hands of the home team. But coach Dai Rees insisted it would provide perfect motivation for a side with big ambitions over the next few months.
"This is the wake-up call we needed," Rees said. "Thank God we decided to come all the way to play in this tournament. We have been shown how much work needs to be done in the next couple of weeks to get back into shape. I'm glad we came."
The Hong Kong team, led by Rowan Varty, are just coming off their 15s season. The last international sevens tournament they figured in was the Singapore Cricket Club Sevens last November where they clinched one of three berths for Asia at this summer's World Cup in Moscow.
But before that, Hong Kong aim to secure a core spot on the HSBC Sevens World Series by winning one of three berths available at the London Sevens in May. With these goals in mind, the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union decided that the squad should take part for the first time in Zimbabwe, and they were found out.
"It was a dreadful performance," Rees admitted, although he would have been pleased that his side at least had the consolation of winning the Plate final, 21-19 against Georgia. "The worst I have seen in over a year."
Hong Kong had looked rusty on the opening day on Saturday, losing to a second-string Kenyan team, but did enough to secure a place in the Cup quarters. The Cheetahs, the defending champions, soon ended Hong Kong's African adventure.
Flyhalf Jamie Hood had given Hong Kong the perfect start with an early try and they could have been 14-0 up but for an error. Zimbabwe, one of 12 teams in the pre-qualification tournament at the Hong Kong Sevens from March 22 to 24, then took control, running in five tries.
"Our heads went down as soon as they scored. We were never in it. But I'm happy this has happened now. I'm confident we can rebuild from this," Rees added.