A not so happy birthday for teenager varty

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 March, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 March, 2005, 12:00am

The crowd sang Happy Birthday to Rowan Varty. But the birthday boy was not really in the mood to celebrate as Hong Kong had just been knocked out of the Bowl competition, losing in the quarter-finals to finish their campaign without a win.

'It lightened the mood a bit, but really it would have been nicer if we had been able to win. I was thrilled to be playing for Hong Kong at the World Cup on my 19th birthday, but it was disappointing to finish like this,' Varty said.

Varty, the baby of the Hong Kong team, came on in the second half as a replacement. But although he did try his best, it was not good enough against Kenya, who ended local hopes early in the day.

The teenager can now only live with the memories of scoring a try against Japan in Hong Kong's 19-10 loss on Saturday at the pool stage.

'I have learned so much at this tournament. The learning curve has been steep. Hopefully, I have a long career playing for Hong Kong ahead of me and this experience is bound to be good for me,' Varty said.

Hong Kong sevens coach Rodney McIntosh agreed the experience would be invaluable for Varty. 'The young guns like Rowan and Ricky [Cheuk] came through. In Rowan's case, his immaturity showed at times as he was not sure of what decisions to take. But he will learn from this. We decided to give Rowan as much game time as possible, for without playing, he wouldn't have got the experience,' McIntosh said.

Varty, who is at Nottingham University, will return to his studies after the Easter holidays. Having taken a lot of time off for Hong Kong's build-up to the World Cup, Varty said he would have to work harder to get back quickly into his studies.

'But in the meantime I will be training. I have another three years at university. After that, we will see what happens,' he said. At 19, Varty can look ahead to a long career for Hong Kong - and hopefully many happier birthdays, too.