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Hong Kong Rugby Union

Cinnamond brothers back in Hong Kong for Sandy Bay, but still can’t keep their rooms tidy

  • Brothers represent a new wave of rugby players coming back home as Hong Kong Rugby Union men’s Premiership ups its recruitment game
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 October, 2018, 3:22pm
UPDATED : Monday, 22 October, 2018, 9:24pm

Although there’s a five-year age gap between the two, Zac and Rory Cinnamond are as close as brothers can get. In fact they actually live together with two other flatmates who also play rugby, in a place in Quarry Bay, which Zac said “stinks horribly.”

“I cannot get Rory to clean up his room either,” he said. “His room stinks the worst and I lecture him everyday.”

Zac, 24, plays for Herbert Smith Freehills HKU Sandy Bay’s Premiership squad, where he started at loose head prop this past weekend as the new club picked up its first win of the season. After that, younger brother Rory, 19, played for Sandy Bay’s ‘A’ squad also at loose head prop.

The brothers are both now back in Hong Kong (they were born in Lancaster, England but spent part of their childhood here), and represent part of a larger movement when it comes to the city’s overall rugby scene.

Both brothers got their start playing rugby for Sandy Bay’s youth programme at the age of six, and have notched up some impressive resumes along the way. Zac, who was previously selected for Hong Kong’s U20 squad, graduated from Swansea University with a degree in business management and finance last year. He is now back and looking for full-time work, thinking he is here for good.

Sandy Bay triumph, HKFC top Valley and Scottish trump Tigers

“I reckon I’m back permanently,” he said. “I really enjoy the rugby, and the club, Hong Kong is an amazing place, nothing else really compares. I spent six months working in Belfast and six months working in Bristol and you just cannot compare it to Hong Kong.”

Rory, currently on a gap year from school and part of the U20 national programme, reckons he will settle in the city permanently as well. This could come sooner rather than later if he lands a junior contract with the Hong Kong Rugby Union. Rory, who wants to do interior architecture as a career, said it’s been fun living with his brother again, although it’s not always a smooth home life with four rugby blokes in one flat eating an insurmountable amount of food.

‘I think I do more to p*** him off than he does to me,” said Rory, noting Zac does all of the cooking for the guys. “I’m a bit of a baby sometimes.”

The two both look primed for eventual caps for the men’s national squad. With careers planted and cultivated in Sandy Bay, nurtured over in England and now back in Hong Kong playing with the men, the two seem right at home both on and off the field.

Having two promising young players like the Cinnamond brothers back in Hong Kong thinking of staying permanently is a feather in the cap for new Sandy Bay general manager Grant Beuzeval, who was brought in over the summer to help the programme transition out from under the Hong Kong Cricket Club banner and integrate with Sandy Bay’s illustrious youth and minis programme. Beuzeval said it’s also a boon for Hong Kong’s overall rugby scene, which he said has been offering some “massive carrots” to players who may have left to play elsewhere, or are contemplating moving to the city to play.

“The HKRU has created a very compelling vision,” he said. “And they’ve supported the clubs to attract these players back to Hong Kong as well as a sprinkling of ambitious foreign players who are looking for career opportunities at the end of their rugby careers.”

Zac said playing for Sandy Bay has been amazing, noting the team has cultivated a great culture off the field, and on, he is constantly being pushed to up his game.

“Each position you’ve not got your place for sure,” he added. “Today was my first start so you really have to keep your spot, it’s tough and competitive and you have to bring your A game. So it’s competitive but I’m really friendly with all the other props as well.”

HKRU Premiership preview: Sandy Bay relishing ‘underdog’ status after grim season and club change

Looking into the future, obviously pulling the Hong Kong jersey over their heads for the men’s squad is the ultimate goal, but until then Zac said him and his brother are OK with continuing along the path set out for them by Hong Kong’s rugby community.

“You do not want to run before you can walk, so first of all comes Sandy Bay and we want to win some games with them, and then you go from there.”