Trip to Europe treated as an extended training camp for Hong Kong's prospective Sevens World Cup stars
Hong Kong use Algarve 7s to prepare for Sevens World Cup
Competing on several fronts has created some unique, but welcome issues for Hong Kong rugby.
Last week Hong Kong’s 15s side moved a step closer to the 2019 Rugby World Cup after triumphing in the Asian Championships. They now go into home-and-away matches with Cook Island for the chance to compete in the four-team World Cup repechage, where the final place at Japan 2019.
However, the Asian side are also preparing for the Sevens World Cup, in San Francisco in July. With so few athletes to select from, head coach Paul John has had to shuffle his pack while taking up the opportunity to play in tournaments in Europe.
Related: The first ever Algarve 7s
“Some of our players play sevens and 15s, so we’re playing tournaments now with those guys who don’t play 15s and try and build experience because we don’t play that many sevens tournaments,” John explained. “So we got the opportunity to come over to Europe and play on the Algarve this week and Amsterdam next week. It’s vital to play.”
John’s side were the first to arrive in Portugal and will stay for a few days after all the other competitors, using the trip to put the players through their paces during a training camp.
Hong Kong were inconsistent on the Algarve, but John has little concern as he casts his eyes further ahead.
Explaining his approach over the trip to Europe, he explains: “We want to see how many of them are competitors, how many of them want to win while giving everybody a chance at the same time. We’ve changed our squad every game (on day one). We’ve got two weeks away and we want to give everyone a chance. And we want these boys to push the ones in the 15s team.
“We’re not a massive rugby playing nation. There’s six Premiership teams in Hong Kong and they are going for a 15s World Cup, the same as we have a sevens World Cup and then there’s the Asian Games which is huge to be involved in.
“So there are some guys who might be able to play in a 15s World Cup, sevens World Cup and an Asian Games. We understand that and at the moment we’re trying to make the base of sevens player in Hong Kong bigger. This is vital for that.”