World Cup trailblazers ready to ‘change the perception of women’s rugby’ in Hong Kong
Coach Jo Hull calls for her 28-strong squad to create a culture of professionalism and toughness as her side leaves for Ireland
Hong Kong leave for the Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland on Friday looking to earn the respect of their opponents and to put down a marker that will be felt for generations to come.
Coach Jo Hull knows her side are in for a workover from top-10 teams Canada, New Zealand and Wales in their first World Cup appearance but wants her charges to “create a legacy”.
“We need to change the image and change the perception of women’s rugby in Hong Kong in terms of understanding what it takes to be a professional player and how tough you have to be and how resilient, rather than walking away when it gets hard,” she said.
“Unfortunately, this is the culture that we have seen for many years here and that is something that we need to change and it has to be demanded.”
Hong Kong’s 28-strong squad are determined to give a good account of themselves and Hull is confident the experience her players gain against some of the world’s best will augur well for the future.
“We are going to use every woman in the squad in Ireland, and that is a key to our larger goal and mission, which is to ensure that our first World Cup appearance isn’t our last, and to create a legacy for the game back home in Hong Kong,” Hull said.
“Qualification for the World Cup is a good start, but we want to inspire more girls to take up rugby after our appearance.”
While it will be down to the likes of captain Chow Mei-nam and fellow experienced players Christine Gordon and Rose Hopewell-Fong to stand tall when the going gets tough, Hull is looking to her youngsters to carry on the legacy.
Emerging players Chloe Mak Ho-yee, Lee Tsz-ting, Agnes Chan Tsz-ching and 18-year-old Kelsie Bouttle are at the forefront of ensuring the values developed in Ireland live on.
“The senior players will need to lead that culture building in Ireland, while the younger players are the bridge to take this spirit back to their schools and national age-grade teammates,” said Hull.
“I see the younger players being a catalyst for that, for really inspiring [up and coming players] and demanding [high] standards when they come back.”
While the playing group is buzzing with anticipation of what the tournament has in store for them, coach Hull is also brimming with excitement.
“I have told them that this has to be special no matter what happens out there and it is something that we talk about for the rest of our lives,” she said.
“It is going to be the most amazing three weeks of their lives and for me to be able to lead them through that is a real privilege.
“I feel a responsibility to change women’s rugby in Hong Kong and to create a legacy so it’s not just something that we forget.”