Scottish rugby player Cameron Henderson credits his development to life in Hong Kong

  • The 20-year-old star will make a move to Premiership Rugby’s Leicester Tigers, where he aims to make the senior squad
  • The former French International School student - who played in the New Year’s Day  Youth Tournament Games - said he thinks of the city as a second home
Andrew McNicol |
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Cameron Henderson plays in the Six Nations Under 20 championships in March 2020. Photo: Craig Watson

Scottish rugby player Cameron Henderson has been called one of the country’s future stars – but did you know the blonde giant used to play in Hong Kong?

“I’m actually 6’7” (2.01m) now. I think I’ve finally stopped growing,” says the 20-year-old Henderson, who was born and raised in Hong Kong until the age of 13. 

“It’s a funny thing when I go back to Hong Kong, trying to squeeze into the MTR and stuff. It’d be funny for people watching, at least!”

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In March, the Scotland U20s coach singled out Henderson’s performance after a record-breaking 52-17 win over Wales in the U20s Six Nations. No Scotland team had ever scored more than 50 points in a Six Nations match – whether men’s or women’s, U20s or first teams. Henderson was praised as a “leader” and “talisman”. 

The tournament was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but the abrupt end didn’t take away from the overall experience. 

“It was good to finish the campaign with a really good performance against Wales; and we were pleased for everyone that everything clicked,” Henderson tells Young Post by phone.

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These performances earned Henderson a move to Premiership Rugby’s Leicester Tigers last month, where he intends to make the senior squad. The former Glasgow Warriors forward played for their U18s two years ago.

“[The move] came about after the Six Nations; they approached me, and it was a bit of a toss-up between them and Glasgow,” he says. “I liked where Leicester were going in terms of the way that they wanted to go with the new coach Steve Borthwick. The pathway that they set out was exciting for me, and I think it’s the best move for my career right now.

“Leicester asked if I wanted to do a preseason back at U18s and I went down there and really enjoyed it. It’s quite nice to come back a couple of years later.”

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Henderson credits some of his development into a world-class rugby player to his Hong Kong days. He was even in town last year to help some Hong Kong players off the pitch.

“I started off at Stanley Fort and then moved to [Hong Kong] Football Club when I was five,” recalls the former French International School student. “We did a lot of age-group stuff until I was playing at a lot of the New Year’s Day [Youth Tournament] games. I loved my time in Hong Kong – the way that the game is played out there and the coaching  shaped me slightly into the player I am now, so I’m obviously very grateful. I think of it as a second home.”

“I miss it very much. I played in the New Year’s U19s games a few years ago and was the water boy last year. I really enjoyed it, made a lot of fond memories and [met] good people. I try to come when I get the chance.”

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Henderson’s goal now – assuming Covid-19 dies down – is to settle in at his new club before trying to lead a new wave of Scottish stars into the senior team. He is aware that none of his unique backstory counts if he does not keep up the hard work.

“I’m due to go down [to Leicester] in July but I’m just having to train at home; obviously you get your exercise [quota], so I’ve been going to train on the pitch. It’s a bit of a weird one but I’m trying to keep myself [as fit] as possible.

“It’s obviously an exciting time for Scottish rugby, and it’s a big honour to play for your country. It’s something that I’m really grateful for and really enjoying,” he says, adding that aspiring Hong Kong rugby players should “love the sport first and foremost” and, like him, “get their head down – then things will happen”.

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