I’m in for Hong Kong’s Cup of Nations tilt, says Japan-based Jamie Hood
On a break from his duties with the Ricoh Black Rams, the scrum half watches on as HKFC go down to Valley by seven points in the HKRU Premiership
In the crowd as Football Club went down to Valley by seven points in the HKRU Premiership on Saturday, Jamie Hood has put his hand up to play for Hong Kong in the Cup of Nations starting next week.
Back in the city while Japan’s Top League breaks during the international window, veteran international Hood can’t wait to play with his best mates again.
“I’m going back to Japan for a camp so I’ll miss the first test but I’ve been training with Hong Kong this week to try and get into the team for the last two tests,” Hood said.
“It’s awesome to come back and see my fiancee and friends.”
The inclusion of the veteran scrum half is a massive boost for Leigh Jones’ side ahead of a series that concludes with a tough clash against a powerful Russia.
After a testing start to his stint with the Tokyo-based Ricoh Black Rams, Hood has worked his way into the side and is starting to find his feet in Japan.
“I came over [to Japan] really late so I missed all the pre-season games pretty much and I didn’t play much for the first three or four games,” he said.
“But I have managed to get myself in the squad for the last four games coming off the bench. It’s good. “I’m sure if you asked me after the first four weeks I would have maybe said something different. It’s different but I’m enjoying it, it’s a good challenge.”
Hood will be in Japan until the end of the Top League season in January, before returning to Hong Kong to prepare for the sevens.
Hong Kong 15s captain Nick Hewson – an important player in Valley’s hard-fought win – is excited by the prospect of having Hood line up alongside him in the upcoming tests.
“It’s exciting to have him back,” Hewson said.
“He’s really keen. He’s a leader in the team, he’s versatile and it’s good to have him back.”
A grandstand finish to Saturday’s game saw Valley desperately defending their lead as HKFC attacked relentlessly on the final play.
“We had a tough few minutes right at the end,” Hewson said. “Both sides really took it to each other.”
The 28-21 win leaves Valley clear on top of the table heading into the two-week international break and well on track to again complete the double.
Their closest rival after six rounds is Bloomberg HK Scottish, who posted an impressive 24-17 win over Herbert Smith Freehills HKCC to sit just three points behind the league leaders.
Kowloon notched their second win of the season to move off the bottom of the ladder, downing Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers 27-17.
In the KPMG Women’s Premiership, CPM Gai Wu Falcons defeated Tigers 12-0 and Kowloon beat Comvita City Sparkle 21-0, while the match between Valley and HKFC was postponed.
The widely expected tight contest between last year’s second and third finishers on the league table materialised, as Tigers trailed 5-0 at the break despite Falcons exerting strong territorial advantage in the first forty minutes.
“We played superb rugby in the first half,” said Falcons coach Lai Yiu-pang.
“We kept Tigers under a lot of pressure and penned them back in their zone for most of the opening 40 minutes.
“We knew that the game was going to be a physical test and we matched up with them well. I think they only managed to get the ball in our half one or two times in the first half.”
Lai credited his forward pack, laden with Hong Kong fifteens and sevens stars, as the difference.
“Our forwards did really well in both attack and defence,” he said.
“We have a lot of sevens players in the backline who are just coming off their international season and I think they need to develop their fifteens sense a bit more as we made a lot of errors in the backline today.”