'Saviour' Seymour checks the talent

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 January, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 January, 2004, 12:00am

New Zealander says he's looking forward to honing the SAR team for Hong Kong Sevens and World Cup

Former New Zealand sevens star Dallas Seymour must have noted down the word 'discipline' after watching DeA Tigers defeat Asahi Valley to win the Union 7s at King's Park yesterday. A moment of rashness from Valley's Stu Denton cost his side big-time in the crucial match watched by Hong Kong's new sevens expert.

Seymour will take on the role of SAR sevens messiah. The Hong Kong Rugby Football Union has hired him as a consultant with an eye on next year's Rugby World Cup Sevens which Hong Kong hosts for the second time.

'There is certainly a lot of talent out here. I have seen it in past Hong Kong teams and I can see it out there today. It is just a matter of honing all that talent. I'm looking forward to working with the Hong Kong squad towards this year's Hong Kong Sevens and the World Cup next year,' he said.

Yesterday, he saw what he will be getting into, when the action at the annual Union 7s unfolded. DeA Tigers won the First Division title in style, remaining unbeaten having beaten CBRE Club 26-12, Synovate Aberdeen 14-5, PLA 31-5 and lastly Valley 21-14.

The First Division competition was hastily changed into a round robin format after Descartes Kowloon pulled out at the last minute. Kowloon could not find even seven players, to field a team.

'We are struggling for numbers and sadly we have had to pull-out today. But we are still committed to fielding a team in the First Division league,'' Kowloon player-coach Rob Turuwhenua said yesterday.

The change in format saw the rest of the team get four games each. By the time DeA met Valley, the outcome of the competition hinged on the result. And it was all over for Valley when they were reduced to six men after Denton was sin-binned for two minutes when he threw away the ball after the referee had awarded DeA a penalty. His absence cost Valley, who were leading 7-0 at that stage.

With the influential Denton sidelined, DeA came back strongly scoring two tries by Chan Fuk-ping and Rob Naylor, either side of half-time to take a handy 14-7 lead. Peter Clough then added a third, capitalising on a turnover after a big hit by the impressive Logan Kerisome. Valley scored a consolation try, but DeA were already celebrating.

Denton, who has aspirations of representing Hong Kong at sevens, will know he will have to tighten up his act if he is to impress Seymour who will be chiefly pulling the strings following head coach Chris Roden's decision not to finish his second contract (six months to go) and leave by the end of this month.

'We needed to do something in the short term and decided to go for Seymour. He was recommended to us by Eric Rush. We wanted someone with international renown as we feel the squad will respond well to that. The initial reaction from the players, especially the senior players, has been positive,' said John Molloy, the HKRFU chairman.

Seymour said: 'The call from Hong Kong came totally out of the blue. I was chuffed that they wanted me. I believe that I can offer a lot. I have played sevens at the highest level for 16 years and it will be a case of applying my experience and knowhow to Hong Kong.'

Seymour, 36, first played in Hong Kong as a teenager back in 1988, alongside Rush. He figured prominently in the winning New Zealand teams in 1989, 1994, 1995 and 1996.

'Hong Kong is almost like a second home to me. I have been here so many times. But it felt strange coming this time. The town seems so sedate compared to when the Sevens is on,' said Seymour.

An 18-strong squad will be announced tomorrow by the Union. Seymour will carry out his first full training session today. 'I won't be based in Hong Kong but I will be coming here as often as I can. There are a few details to be worked out, but I'm looking forward to the challenge.

'There is no reason why Hong Kong cannot be up there with the rest of the world in sevens.'

Meanwhile, Lighthouse Causeway Bay won the Second Division title by beating Valley Knights 21-14. In the Third Division, Valley Mustangs beat Police 22-0.

The Fourth Division was won by Police Panthers who beat CWB Pirates 24-0. DeA Tigers beat Club Bulls 17-12 to take the Fifth Division title while CWB Marines won the Sixth Division. In the Women's Division, DeA Tigers pipped Club 10-7.