Hong Kong’s senior domestic competition is organised by the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union and features the city’s top six clubs – DeA Tigers, Hong Kong Scottish, HKCC, HKFC, Kowloon and Valley.
Ranfurly Shield-style trophy honours late Iain Brown in Hong Kong rugby
League champions Kowloon will begin season with first defence of the ‘Broony Quaich’
Kevin McBarron is quick to point out that Hong Kong rugby's newest trophy - the Broony Quaich - is "not a memorial cup but more a celebratory cup".
And Abacus Kowloon as defending league champions hope to kick off the new season which gets under way tomorrow by hanging on to the newest silverware offered by the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union.
"Originally the idea was to play the Broony Quaich for an annual game between Kowloon and Hong Kong Football Club but when the union began talking about a Ranfurly-style competition, it seemed ideal to marry the two ideas, hence the Broony Quaich," said McBarron, chairman of Kowloon RFC.
The Ranfurly Shield is a trophy in New Zealand's domestic rugby based on a challenge system with the holders defending the shield at their home games. Kowloon, being the reigning league champions, will earn the right to the first defence when they take on Borrelli Walsh Tigers at King's Park tomorrow.
The local trophy is in honour of Ian "Broony" Brown, a local rugby stalwart and former Hong Kong team manager who died earlier this year. It has been donated by his mother.
"The quaich is a Scottish drinking vessel and, in this instance, it is not a memorial cup, more a celebratory cup, that will keep his name in Hong Kong rugby circles alive this year and we hope beyond," McBarron said. "He would have loved this idea and, if he were here, no doubt he would have had many very strong opinions of the games to be played in his honour."
The Broony Quaich will add extra fizz to the Premiership, which will feature six teams playing three rounds for the league championship. Apart from Kowloon and DeA Tigers, the others are Newedge Club, WhichWay Valley, Leighton Asia HKCC and Hong Kong Scottish.
All six teams will be in action at King's Park on the opening day with the HKRFU introducing the "Super Saturday" format to raise the game's profile. Paul Y. Engineering Group Limited will sponsor all domestic leagues.
The first goal for all Premiership teams is to finish in the top four and qualify for the season-ending grand championship held by Valley. The grand championship will be played over two weekends, going straight into the semi-finals and then the final.
"We are going through a rebuilding process this season and our goals will be to consolidate and hopefully achieve a top-four finish," said DeA Tigers' new director of rugby Chris Davies.
The club, which has traditionally fostered local players, will face a tough ask as they come up against Kowloon, led by Matthew Stockdale.