Just the job - employer lines up on Varty’s side
Hong Kong captain Rowan Varty counts himself lucky he has understanding bosses who might look sympathetically on his plea to play more rugby next year.
Business law firm Tanner de Witt gives Varty plenty of leeway when it comes to representing Hong Kong at the international level in sevens and 15s. It would have to bend even more if Hong Kong were to be a core team.
Varty, 24, put his career as a lawyer on hold for a season-and-a-half, but is juggling both since last September, helped by a benevolent attitude from his rugby-loving employers.
'They have been extremely accommodating with my rugby and, in fact, my boss plays for the Valley women's team,' he said. 'It is pretty hard balancing a professional work career and what is essentially a professional level of rugby commitment, but luckily for me Tanner de Witt lets me achieve this.'
But what happens if Hong Kong win one of three berths to become a core team next year, requiring them to play in all nine (or 10 if it is expanded) world series legs next season?
'It would be the biggest achievement in my career if we are able to qualify,' says Varty. 'We have always felt we have a strong team, a professional coaching staff, and strong support from the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union to compete at the highest level. We just haven't had the competition to get used to it all.'
There is no hiding the hunger within Varty to compete with the world's best in tournaments from Dubai to London. And he is fully supportive of the IRB's decision to split the Hong Kong Sevens into a two-tier competition. 'Yes, you will lose the famous upsets, the likes of Hong Kong beating Wales, or the cheers every time a small nation scores against New Zealand, but what you will get are more competitive games,' he said. 'Now every game we play will be there for the taking.'
Varty was still a schoolboy at KGV when he first represented Hong Kong at the Hong Kong Sevens. The buzz and excitement every time he runs out in front of tens of thousands of fans still pounds through his heart.
'This will be my seventh Sevens. I have been involved with every team since I was 17, but this year will be the biggest challenge. People have to realise that for us to qualify, we have to take all our strong performances and the upsets and shocks we have produced in the past few years, and put them into one tournament. Fortunately, we have come a long way and I feel we are capable of doing this and qualifying.'