HK earn Cup after whipping Brazil
Hong Kong picked up an early Christmas present when they won the inaugural Emirates Airlines Cup of Nations by defeating Brazil 37-3 in the winners-take-all final in Dubai.
The victory is the first time Hong Kong have won a significant international 15s tournament. The wins over Brazil, Kenya and the United Arab Emirates will also raise Hong Kong's stock in the International Rugby Board world rankings, with the city expected to move up from 29 into the mid-20s.
A pleased Dai Rees, Hong Kong's national coach, said: 'It was a fitting end to what was a very good week of rugby. I can't remember when Hong Kong last won a 15-a-side tournament, but what is more important is that we have blooded a number of new players who have all played outstandingly.'
Brazil, who were ranked 30th prior to the tournament, played with plenty of grit and determination to restrict Hong Kong to 10-3 at the break, with Alex McQueen and Keith Robertson (pictured) being the try-scorers.
'We scored right on the break to push the score to 10-3. Brazil were a tough side and we knew we would need to start well in the second half if we were to dominate,' Rees said.
Debutant Ally Maclay gave Hong Kong the perfect start scoring soon after resumption, and that opened the floodgates, as McQueen completed a hat-trick, followed by Rowan Varty and Lee Jones going over as Hong Kong strolled to victory.
The tournament, which was jointly organised by the UAE and Hong Kong unions, will now become an annual fixture.
It will give Rees the opportunity to test out his squad before the HSBC Asian Five Nations. Hong Kong benefitted hugely, having seen their new front row of Ian Ridgeway, Tom Bolland and Steve Nolan emerge with flying colours.
'We have a solid front five, with four new faces, but it wasn't only about the newcomers. This trip also gave players like Ed Haynes, who has represented Hong Kong at sevens, the chance to play in 15s. Overall the guys have taken a step forward and it is good to have this tournament in place before the Asian Five Nations,' Rees said. 'We have worked hard over the past couple of years and it is nice to see an emerging 15s culture in Hong Kong. Winning this tournament is a nice reward.'