World Cup back on Hong Kong’s radar after Canada trip
Hong Kong 15s players involved in sevens training stint are preparing for Uruguay qualifier
It will be back to the business of qualifying for the 15-a-side World Cup for rugby sevens stars Nick Hewson and company after Hong Kong returned from a 10-day Canadian training camp described by sevens head coach Gareth Baber as the "perfect springboard" for a bid to win gold at the Asian Games.
Hong Kong 15s skipper Hewson, who is also a key cog of the sevens squad at the Hong Kong Sports Institute, and others such as Rowan Varty, Jamie Hood, Salom Yiu Kam-shing and Alex and Tom McQueen will now prepare for the first-round repêchage against Uruguay on August 2.
They all had a break as Baber took a large squad to Canada where they trained and played games against the Canadian national team who are competing in the IRB Sevens World Series and their development squad.
"The camp offered invaluable development for the team and should provide an excellent springboard into the Asian [Sevens] Series and Asian Games," said Baber.
"Players involved in the 15s game against Uruguay will return to sevens training after the game. I will not be naming the final Asian Games squad until after the first week in September."
Hong Kong will host the first leg of the Asian Sevens Series on August 23-24 with the second leg in Kuala Lumpur on September 6-7. The sevens competition at the Asian Games will be played in early October.
The 10-day training camp in Canada had lifted the sevens squad a notch, Baber said.
"The goals were threefold - increase the volume of training, competition against a core IRB Sevens team and to put the players under pressure outside a normal pitch environment and I'm happy to say all these have been addressed," he said.
"We were able to play against Canada twice and also their Maple Leaves team, at their Sevens base at Shawnigan Lake School. This gave an opportunity for all of the players to experience the intensity, speed and physicality of what is expected at this level of competition.
"Whilst there exists a performance gap between ourselves and Canada we felt we equipped ourselves well and the response from some of the players to this pressure was enlightening.
"These games provided a very real benchmark for our performance, highlighting areas of strength and weakness in our game," Baber said.