‘You are accountable’: Hong Kong women’s rugby team told to deliver against Japan
Double header in Asia Rugby Championships is the final dress rehearsal before the historic first appearance at the Rugby World Cup in Ireland in August
Hong Kong coach Jo Hull says a clear message of accountability has been hammered home to the women’s national rugby team who will face Japan in a home and away series to decide the Asia Rugby Championships.
The matches in Japan on Saturday and the return leg at home next weekend will be Hong Kong’s final competitive warm-up before their historic first appearance at the Rugby World Cup in Ireland in August.
“This is international rugby and we are representing Hong Kong, so results matter. We started to close the gap against Spain and now we need to do that against Japan,” said Hull.
Hong Kong lost their last clash with Japan 20-8 in last December’s World Cup qualifier, improving on 39-3 and 30-8 losses in last spring’s Asian championships.
“This is a big test of our progress for the World Cup,” said Hull.
“There has been a clear message to the girls selected about accountability and we’re putting a premium on efficiency and accuracy. Each game is about getting us one step closer to how we want to play on the world stage.
“While the squad has really come into their own over the past six months, at this stage of the campaign, there are no second chances. The players have to be accountable, plain and simple. They know and accept that.
“While everyone has bought into the team ethos and understands that we are going to need every last 28 of the women we bring to Ireland, there are some really hungry players who are disappointed with this selection,” Hull said.
National age grade programme graduate Kelsie Bouttle is set to earn her first cap after a standout season for league and Grand Championship winners Valley.
Hull has also welcomed the return of some of the side’s senior campaigners in centre Adrienne Garvey, who will captain the team in Japan, and flanker Christine Gordon.
“It is great to have Rocky [Garvey] and Chrissie [Gordon] back, and we are excited to be able to blood another new cap in Kelsie, along with the five first-timers who went to Spain,” Hull said.
“We are using this opportunity to look at a few different starters and combinations, like Lindsay Varty at scrum half and ‘BB’ [Lee Tsz-ting] at No. 10. We think that could be an exciting combination.
“The selection reflects our preparations for the World Cup, which is our only focus at the moment. Everything we’re doing is building towards being ready for the first match against Canada next month,” Hull said.
The match represents another benchmarking opportunity after the team’s tour of Spain last month. Fourteen of the 23-member Spain squad have been tipped for the opener against Japan, including four of the five players who made their Hong Kong debuts in Valladolid.
Squad for Japan
Lau Nga-wun (Gai Wu), Royce Chan Leong-sze (HKFC), Wong Yuen-shan (USRC Tigers/EdUHK), Chan Ka-yan (Gai Wu), Tsang Sin-yan, Christine Gordon (Kowloon), Chan Tsz-ching (Tai Po Dragons/HKBU), Amelie Seure (Valley, vice-captain), Lindsay Varty (USRC Tigers), Lee Tsz-ting (Gai Wu/HKBU), Lau Sze-wa (Valley), Rebecca Thompson (Valley), Adrienne Garvey (Valley, captain), Laurel Chor Lik-fung (Valley), Aggie Poon Pak-yan (Gai Wu).
Reserves: Ho Hoi-lam (Gai Wu), Cheung Shuk-han (Valley), Pun Wai-yan (Gai Wu/EdUHK), Winnie Siu Wing-ni (USRC Tigers), Tsang Sin-yan (Kowloon), SJessica Ho Wai-on (USRC Tigers), Rose Hopewell-Fong Siu-lan (HKFC), Kelsie Bouttle (Valley/ICHK).