Hong Kong Sevens

Retiring legend DJ Forbes remembered for famous haka in the rain that ‘epitomises the Hong Kong Sevens’

New Zealand captain won the lot in 11 years at the top and finishes as the sport’s most-capped player

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 September, 2017, 2:19pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 September, 2017, 10:59pm

Hong Kong Rugby Union chief executive Robbie McRobbie has paid tribute to retiring sevens legend DJ Forbes, thanking him for his contribution to the Hong Kong Sevens.

The most-capped player in sevens history called an end to his glittering career on Wednesday, with McRobbie remembering New Zealand’s haka in the rain at Hong Kong Stadium after their 2014 victory.

“The haka in the rain, for many people that will be a lasting memory of DJ but it has also become an image that epitomises the Sevens,” McRobbie said.

“Like Jonah [Lomu] and Waisale [Serevi], I think DJ takes his place among the true greats of the sevens game and the true legends of the Hong Kong Sevens.

“He has played in many memorable matches here in Hong Kong, he has entertained the crowds for many, many years and we say thank you for his contribution.”

Hong Kong fans could encounter Forbes in a different capacity at next year’s Hong Kong Sevens, with McRobbie floating the idea of bringing the 34-year-old back as an ambassador.

“We wish him all the best in his new endeavours and we hope that we can perhaps bring him out to join us next year as our guest in recognition of all he has contributed over the years,” McRobbie said.

Forbes made 89 World Series tournament appearances, winning 26 – including three Hong Kong Sevens crowns. He played 512 games on the series and scored 153 tries

After beginning his career in 2006, he won six World Series titles and captained New Zealand to gold at the Commonwealth Games and Sevens World Cup. He was named world sevens player of the year in 2008.

“The last 11 years with the All Blacks Sevens has been an awesome ride that I’ve loved every minute of,” he said in a statement on the All Blacks website.

“I’ve built lifelong friendships with players, coaches and management and got to experience the high of success on the international stage. I want to thank all those who have helped and supported me on the way, from club level right through to the national side.

“Sevens means you’re on the road a lot. While I got to travel and represent my country, sacrifices were made at home. I want to thank my wife and kids and family and friends for their enormous support, and I am looking forward to being around a lot more.

“Today starts my new life after footy. I’m looking forward to finishing my Masters degree, which examines what makes successful coaching from an athlete’s perspective, and my goal is to one day coach a national side.”

A fellow Hong Kong Sevens legend, Waisale Serevi, was among those paying tribute as the news broke, tweeting “Thanks my brother DJ Forbes for all you’ve done for World Rugby 7s, proud of you.”

Brett Gosper, chief executive of World Rugby, said Forbes had “[shaped] the modern game of Sevens”.

New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew said DJ Forbes’ retirement was the end of an era.

“DJ has been an integral part of an incredibly successful All Blacks Sevens outfit that defined the way the game is played. His natural leadership saw him take on the captaincy of the team during a period of triumph and his knowledge of sevens and calm wisdom will be sorely missed,” he said on the All Blacks website.

“His success in sevens is without peer. He’s been a consistent and dominant force on the world stage for so long, achieving nearly every title and accolade sevens has going during his playing career.

“DJ is one of the great guys of rugby. Dominant on the field and respected off it. He’s has been a great ambassador both nationally and internationally for sevens and has given a huge amount of his time help grow its profile. We are sad to see him go but wish him and his family all the best for the next stage in his career.”