Hong Kong’s women’s rugby team finally starting to believe they belong, says coach Anna Richards

Tough training trip to New Zealand an ‘eye-opener’ for squad ahead of Hong Kong Sevens

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 March, 2017, 10:07pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 March, 2017, 10:51am

Hong Kong women’s coach Anna Richards feels her side might finally be beginning to believe they can match up with the world’s best after a bruising training trip to New Zealand recently.

They were drawn against Argentina, Kenya and Belgium in Pool B of the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens Women’s event, which this year has the massive carrot of a place on the World Series for the winner.

Richards is worried about several injuries to key players for the event but has been hugely enthused by the way her team coped in her homeland of New Zealand.

“We made it a really tough training camp and they played some really good football,” Richards said.

“I was proud of them and thought, ‘Holy heck, if we can play like this consistently we can really do well.’

“I’d like to see some confidence – probably before New Zealand I would have said they lacked a bit of self-belief but I think they got that there.

“We were playing basically New Zealand B and four were fully contracted to their sevens programme, one was an Olympian, another couple had been on the Sevens Series.

“The second day we got there we played Counties and they played five Black Ferns, and that’s a big thing – a lot of these girls really look up to those players, but they’ve got to realise they’re pretty much on the same pedestal.

“I think it was a real eye-opener for them.”

HK’s Christy Cheng Ka-chi was desperate to avoid Pool A, which already had familiar foes Japan and China in it, and delighted with the chance to take on Argentina again, who narrowly beat them in a couple of close games recently, including ending their Olympic qualification hopes.

“It’s a real motivation for the girls not only to come to a World Series Qualifier but playing some teams they’ve got a bit of a grudge against,” added Richards.

“Argentina beat us the last two times, so they really want to have a go at them and I think that’s great, I like that they really show that pride and fire.”