Hong Kong Rugby Union

Former Wales sevens captain Jevon Groves settling in as Gareth Baber’s Hong Kong assistant

The 28-year-old is also playing for HKFC in Premiership 15s, with his side facing Kowloon in round three on Saturday

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 October, 2016, 5:18pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 October, 2016, 4:13am

After years of warming up in front of the South Stand during his time playing sevens for Wales, new Hong Kong elite men’s coach and HKFC recruit Jevon Groves is already plotting a trip into the iconic party area come April.

He may fall short in his plan however, with the 28-year-old, who was appointed as Gareth Baber’s assistant in July, set to have other things on his plate at the Hong Kong Sevens.

Having captained Wales on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and played as recently as the Singapore tournament in April, Groves fast-tracked his entry in to full-time coaching when the job in Hong Kong came along.

“This opportunity was probably something that was pretty early on in what I was thinking my coaching career professionally would have been, but it was too good an opportunity to turn down,” Groves said.

“I have always had ambition to coach and I suppose I had better opportunities to coach than I did to play, to be honest. I’ve pretty much studied and coached ever since I started playing professional rugby. It was basically an ongoing process of looking after myself because rugby is pretty unpredictable.”

Groves captained Wales at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, but didn’t come under consideration for the Great Britain team that won silver at this year’s Rio Olympics.

Having met Baber when under his tutelage at the Cardiff Blues academy, Groves played in the Guinness Pro 12 for the Blues and the Newport Gwent Dragons.

The agile second-rower has plenty of rugby left in him, but concedes now was the time to make the shift away from playing rugby professionally.

After coaching at the Cross Keys Rugby Football Club in the Welsh Premiership in recent years through the club’s affiliation with the Dragons, Groves has embraced the move to Hong Kong.

“The change of scenery has been good for me,” he said.

“I’ve learnt a lot and I’ve only been here for three or four months.”

Could having a match of the week streamed across Asia help put Hong Kong rugby on the map?

Groves played at the Sevens on “four or five” occasions and says that, despite his side rarely fairing well (they did make the Cup final in 2013, losing to Fiji), the experience will stay with him forever.

“Everyone associates sevens with Hong Kong and I’ve really enjoyed coming here when I have played,” he said.

“I think we did really well in Hong Kong one year but other than that we seem to have struggled in Hong Kong. The likes of Fiji and New Zealand turn up for that one and blitz everyone.”

Due to the structure of the Hong Kong Rugby Union Premiership, Groves will be available to play most weeks for a Natixis HKFC side still looking for their first win of the season.

After making his debut in last Saturday’s loss to Scottish, Groves says the side are remaining calm as they prepare to face Kowloon in round three.

“The start of the season, it takes time for new players to come together and gel, so I don’t think there is too much to panic about,” he said.

“I think the more games we play together and the more times we train, it will get a lot better.”

Kicking on: HK Scottish recruit Gregor McNeish on target thanks to former Chief

Other round three matches see Societe Generale Valley travel to Shek Kip Mei to play Bloomberg HK Scottish and Herbert Smith Freehills HKCC tackle Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers.

In the KPMG Women’s Premiership, Kowloon play Valley, CPM Gai Wu Falcons face SCAA First Pacific CWB Phoenix and HKFC take on Comvita City Sparkle.