Varty among 40 players to join elite sevens training programme
HKSI intake comprises a ‘Who’s Who’ of Hong Kong rugby in scheme designed to close gap on international rivals
Former Hong Kong sevens captain Rowan Varty has put his legal career on hold to pursue his dream of representing Hong Kong in the Olympics, after joining 40 players inducted into the Hong Kong Sports Institute yesterday.
"I had just finished my two-year training period at Tanner DeWitt. The expiry of my training period coincided with the establishment of the HKSI programme and the firm was very accommodating," said Varty.
"It could have been quite a difficult decision for me, but it was made very easy by the firm, who have allowed me to carry on part-time. It wasn't a tough decision at the end but I'm glad I made it."
Sevens became the first team sport inducted into the Sports Institute in April; since then the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union has been selecting the first inductees, while several players with jobs have been trying to obtain sabbaticals to go full-time.
The 40-member HKRFU squad comprises 22 men (14 full-time, eight part-time) and 18 women (11 full-time, seven part-time).
"I have spent the whole of my adult life playing for this team and I wasn't about to give up when we really made the push for full-time status," added Varty. "I think this is my 10th year with the team and this has been the first time we really committed as a team to going full-time.
"It is definitely the right move for us to join the HKSI. It is the only way that we could have pushed on and improved. As much as we like to think that we were getting the most out of being part-time and treating the game with a professional approach, we are miles ahead of where we were six months ago, simply because of being full-time."
Hong Kong men’s and women’s sevens captains – Jamie Hood and Royce Chan Leong-sze – will both be part of the HKSI’s full-time intake.
The men’s list is a Who’s Who of the Hong Kong national sevens set-up with the full-time intake, in addition to Varty, including Jamie Hood, Salom Yiu Kam-shing, Alex McQueen, Tom McQueen, Nick Hewson, Lee Jones, Ben Rimene, Max Woodward, Raef Morrison, Josh Peters, Adam Rolston, Chris Maize and Jack Capon – all of whom have represented Hong Kong at senior sevens level in the past year.
Men’s part-time athletes include Anthony Haynes, Simon Leung Ho-yam, Kwok Ka-chun, Tsang Hing-hung, Fan Shun-kei, Adam Raby, Cado Lee and Keith Robertson.
“The players’ employers have been very supportive of our aims and objectives,” said Dai Rees, HKRFU head of technical development and performance, noting that several of the players have been granted time off for the push for qualification when sevens makes it Olympics debut at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
In addition to Chan, the women’s full-time intake includes Christy Cheng Ka-chi, Cheng Tsz-ting, Christine Gordon, Colleen Tjosvold, Amelie Seure, Lai Pou-fan, Lindsay Varty, Natasha Olson-Thorne, Rose Fong Siu-lan and Sham Wai-sum. Emmy Chan Hoi-ping, Daniella Means, Ivy Kwong Sau-yan, Melody Li Nim-yan, Nam Ka-man, Aggie Poon Pak-yan and Yuen Lok-yee are enrolled on a part-time basis.
The 40 athletes at the HKSI will now receive special training and financial support to enhance their competitiveness and help close the gap on their rivals on the international stage.