England World Cup winner Josh Lewsey steps out for Hong Kong Football Club as Premiership play-offs begin
The 41-year-old’s presence makes it a special day for his teammates as Kowloon and Valley progress to the semi-finals
The play-offs got under way in the Old Mutual International Men’s Premiership on Saturday but all eyes were on a Championship A match at So Kon Po, with former England star Josh Lewsey lacing up the boots.
The 2003 World Cup winner and former British & Irish Lion stepped out for Natixis HKFC for the first time after moving to Hong Kong early last year, with the 41-year-old’s presence making it a special day for the team.
“The fourth-grade team have been buzzing because he said yes to it, they were that excited,” said first-team coach Cameron McIntosh.
HKFC won 55-0 against the Typhoons to secure the league championship and Lewsey got through unscathed, saying “it was a nice game of rugby, all the boys were really into it”.
In the build-up to last year’s Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Lewsey praised “the family that is rugby” for ensuring him a smooth transition into Hong Kong life after he moved here to work for EY.
Wear and tear from a career that saw him play 55 tests for England prevents Lewsey from playing regularly, but he makes his presence felt at HKFC in other ways.
“He’s involved in the club, he comes out to training and coaches and joins in, the energy he brings is huge,” McIntosh said.
In the top tier, Societe Generale Valley and Kowloon progressed, with Valley defeating Herbert Smith Freehills HKCC 35-19 and Kowloon victorious against Bloomberg HK Scottish in an epic.
With the scores locked at 32-32 at the final whistle, neither team were able to trouble the scorers during extra time. A try countback still couldn’t split the teams, who each crossed four times, with Kowloon eventually awarded the win because they dotted down first.
“It was stressful,” Kowloon coach James Scaysbrook said. “There was great desire from the lads, some of the big guys who had played over 100 minutes of rugby, to show that much desire was a massive credit to them and the boys worked hard together when they needed to.”
Scottish started the match the better, with Kane Boucaut leading the way with a try as the hosts opened up a 20-11 half-time lead.
Kowloon’s revival after the break was led by centre Lewis Warner, with his double giving his side the lead in the dying stages.
It was a try to Scottish winger Ben Cullen that squared things up, with fly half Gregor McNeish off target with what would have been the match-winning conversion.
What followed was brutal, with neither side giving an inch and the players operating on empty.
Next week’s semi-finals see Kowloon play the Borrelli Walsh USRC Tigers and Valley tackle HKFC. In the KPMG Women’s Premiership, Gai Wu hammered City Sparkle 84-0, Tigers thumped CWB Phoenix 66-0, Tai Po edged HKFC 25-19 and Valley progressed after Kowloon forfeited.