Gai Wu’s Chow Mei-nam picked to lead Hong Kong women’s 15s on tour of Spain
Head coach Jo Hull names ‘balanced’ squad including four uncapped youngsters
Hong Kong’s national women’s 15s squad will include four uncapped players and be led by a new skipper when they jet off to Madrid in two weeks to play a two-test series against Spain, the Hong Kong Rugby Union said Tuesday.
In announcing her 25-strong squad for the 12-21 December tour, Hong Kong women’s 15s head coach Jo Hull named relative newcomer CPM Gai Wu Falcons number eight Chow Mei-nam as Hong Kong captain for the series.
“Although [Chow] has only played twice for the national team, in last season’s Asia Rugby Women’s Championship, she is already a huge leader in everything we do,” said Hull.
“Over the last three or four months she has proven that she is one to watch for the future.
“Physically she has the size to compete at this level. She’s a strong ball carrier who we’ll be relying on heavily in the coming games. But she also embodies the team’s values. She is a teacher by day and her work-rate is inspirational to the rest of the team,” Hull added.
Hull’s squad features a concentration of players from the top two teams in the HKRU Women’s Premiership – Societe Generale Valley Black Ladies and Gai Wu Falcons – as well as several members of the national sevens squad who returned home from Tokyo on Monday after finishing third overall in the Asian Olympic sevens qualifiers.
“We’ve got a good mix of young players and experienced campaigners such as Christy Cheng [Ka-chi] and Royce Chan [Leong-sze] from the sevens set-up, but we were keen to make sure that we selected a squad for the future so there is a balance of experience and potential,” said Hull.
Adrienne Garvey has been named vice-captain and is one of eight Valley players in the squad. Among nine Falcons players included is “Gai Wu Express” Aggie Pook Pak-yan, the top try-scorer in Asian sevens rugby this season.
Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers and Natixis HKFC Ice each have three of their team represented on the Hong Kong 15s squad, while Sabre Kowloon Ladies and Transact 24 Tai Po Dragon Ladies will each field one representative.
The four uncapped players Hull and the selectors have included are three from the backline – Rebecca Thompson, who previously represented Hong Kong at age-grade level, Hong Kong U20 sevens captain Aileen Ryan and her U20 team-mate Mak Ho-yee. Jasmine Cheung Shuk-han is the only newcomer among the forwards after she impressed selectors on her return to Hong Kong from studying overseas.“Our four new caps show great potential for the future,” said Hull. “Ryan, Thompson and Ho have come through the age-grade programme as one of our key aims for the Tour is to groom young players.
“Jasmine brings a strong physical presence to the side. She has been playing in England and adds some valuable experience and knowledge to the team,” added Hull.
Spain finished ninth overall in the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup after being grouped with eventual finalists England and Canada in the pool stage. Spain beat Kazakhstan 18-5 to advance to the ninth place play-off where they dispatched South Africa 36-0.
The results indicate the challenge that lies ahead for Hong Kong, who lost their most recent test 40-0 against Kazakhstan 40-0 in Almaty this spring.
“We expect a physical challenge from Spain, but they also have a full-time sevens squad which is obviously going to be a factor,” the coach said.
“They are good with ball in hand and fast, building out of their sevens capability, so it will be an excellent opportunity for us to gauge where we are.
“Spain are good, but we are focusing more on our own processes rather than our opponents. We have some talented players and can play dynamic rugby.
“We’ll be looking to see which combinations work on Tour and will focus on some key performance goals rather than judging success purely on wins and losses. Having said that, we want to show our strengths to the women’s rugby world and a win would be nice,” Hull added.
Hong Kong will play Tuesday, 15 December and Saturday, 19 December.
Hong Kong women’s 15s squad – Spain tour
Forwards: Karen So Hoi-ting, Amelie Seure, Royce Chan Leong-sze, Cheng Ching-to, Christy Cheng Ka-chi, Chow Mei-nam (c), Claire Forster, Tammy Lau Nga-wun, Lee Ka-shun, Melody Li Nim-yan, Lo Wai-yan, Jasmine Shuk Han-cheung, Winnie Siu Wing-ni.
Backs: Adrienne Garvey (vc), Aileen Ryan, Cheng Tsz-ting, Colleen Tjosvold, Kwong Sau-yan, Lau Sze-wa, Mak Ho-yee, Natasha Olson-Thorne, Aggie Pool pak-yan, Sham Wai-sum, Stephanie Cuvelier