Hong Kong Rugby
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s)Dragons
EmblemChinese dragon
UnionHong Kong Rugby Union
Head coachLewis Evans
CaptainTommy Hill
Most capsNick Hewson (58)
Top scorerRowan Varty (120)
Top try scorerRowan Varty (24)
Home stadiumHong Kong Stadium & Hong Kong Football Club Stadium
First colours
Second colours
World Rugby ranking
Current24 (as of 16 January 2023)
Highest21 (2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022)
Lowest39 (2009, 2010)
First international
 Hong Kong 11–5 Australian Universities
(1934)
Biggest win
 Hong Kong 164–13 Singapore
(Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; 27 October 1994)
Biggest defeat
Japan 94–5 Hong Kong
(Tokyo, Japan; 22 May 2010)
World Cup
Appearances0
Websitewww.hkrugby.com

The Hong Kong national rugby union team (Chinese: 香港欖球代表隊), nicknamed the Dragons, has made the qualifying rounds of the Rugby World Cup. Rugby union in Hong Kong is administered by the Hong Kong Rugby Union since 1952, and successfully competes annually in the Asia Rugby Championship.

Hong Kong has one of the oldest rugby traditions in Asia, having been played there since the 19th century, when British colonists arrived in Hong Kong and brought the sport with them. For a long time, rugby union in Hong Kong was traditionally associated with Hong Kong's British colonial settlers, but since the 1990s there has been extensive efforts to integrate the game with the local Cantonese Chinese community, it included some local born players, with a degree of success; the first of these players being "Rambo" Leung Yeung Kit, considered to be, one of best Hong Kong players during his era. Other players such as Ricky Cheuk and Cado Lee had made significant impact in international tournaments.

Hong Kong has finished first place in the Asia Rugby Championship in 2018, 2019, 2022, and 2023, and made it to the repechage of the 2015 Rugby World Cup qualifying, though lost to Uruguay 24 to 3.They again competed in the repechage tournament for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

History

Early history

According to old newspapers, rugby union in Hong Kong dates back to the late 1870s, which would establish Hong Kong as perhaps the oldest rugby playing nation in Asia. The players during this era were all British sailors and army/navy men, as well as police and merchant men. The first secretary of rugby in Hong Kong was Jock McGregor.[1]

The first fixtures which predate the creation of the modern Hong Kong Rugby Union in 1952 took place from 1924 to 1949. An unofficial interport team from Hong Kong played Shanghai on various dates from 1924 to 1949, both teams being composed entirely of British expatriates living in said port cities; these fixtures ceased after the establishment of Communist rule in mainland China.[2] In 1934, a Hong Kong team played against an Australia Universities team, running out victors 11 to 5.

After the establishment of modern Chinese borders, which before greyed the exact control a union had over territory in China, the Hong Kong Rugby Union was established in 1952; the continuation of British rule in China, as well as the flow of immigrants and capital from the mainland, as well as Hong Kong establishing itself as a major port, allowed the game to flourish, albeit mostly restricted to the white British community.[citation needed]

During this time frame the first official fixtures under the union took place. Hong Kong first received a NZ Universities team in 1958, losing 47 to nil. In 1958, Larry Abel, one of Hong Kong's earliest rugby pioneers, established mini rugby programmes and tournaments, and has been played annually to this day.[3] In 1968, Hong Kong was one of the charter nations of the Asian Rugby Football Union, the others being Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, South Korea, and Thailand. Hong Kong won its first official fixture against Japan in 1969, by the score of 24 to 22 in Tokyo.

1970s

During the 1970s Hong Kong played against many of its other Asian neighbors which had a rugby history, these nations being Japan, South Korea, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Singapore. Hong Kong enjoyed and endured mixed success against its neighbors, finishing second in 1972, only to lose to Japan 16 to nil on home soil.

In 1976, the first ever edition of the Hong Kong Sevens was established, which was pivotal in strengthening the sport in Hong Kong. The concept was discussed by business partners Ian Gow and Tokkie Smith, who wanted to promote a viable rugby product in Asia. The first sponsors of this event were Cathay Pacific and Rothmans International, later replaced by The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. The first sides at this competition were Asian, as well as 2 representative sides from Australia and New Zealand. Soon, the competition grew to include teams from around the world before becoming an official part of the Rugby Sevens calendar.[4]

1980s–1990s

During the 1980s, Hong Kong lagged behind Japan and South Korea in terms of competition; Hong Kong was successful against other Asian nations but consistently finished in third place, whereas Japan and South Korea were vying for the top crown. Hong Kong officially joined the IRB in 1988, allowing Hong Kong to compete in the Rugby World Cup, though they did not enter the competition to qualify for 1991.

The 1990s proved to be a much more fruitful decade for Hong Kong. Hong Kong played its first ever test match against a non-Asia-Pacific opponent in 1992, losing 16 to 23 to the United States in 1992 in Boxer Stadium, San Francisco. In the same year, Hong Kong finally broke through and reached the final of the Asia Rugby Championship, beating South Korea 20 to 13 before losing to Japan 9 to 37.

Some notable players during the 1990s represented Hong Kong at the international level including Ashley Billington, David Lewis, Leung Yeung Kit, Chan Fuk Ping and Pieter Schats.

Hong Kong participated in its first qualifying tournament for the Rugby World Cup in 1995, being drawn with Thailand and Singapore in its group. Hong Kong lost its opening fixture to South Korea 28 to 17 before beating its other opponents; Hong Kong therefore missed out on a spot at the 1995 Rugby World Cup. An impressive feat achieved during this campaign though was Ashley Billington's 10 tries versus Singapore on 10 November 1994, which is the most tries ever scored in a Rugby World Cup qualifier by a single player.

Through the 1990s, Hong Kong began organizing tests against non-Asian opponents. Opponents that were played were Namibia, Papua New Guinea, the United States, and Canada. Hong Kong recorded some famous victories, beating the USA Eagles on three occasions in the decade, including a victory in San Francisco, and beating Canada in 1998.

Despite major improvement in the 1990s, Hong Kong bottomed out in its qualifying group for the 1999 Rugby World Cup; Hong Kong beat its nemesis South Korea, but lost to Japan and were upset by the Chinese Taipei; they finished fourth and missed on direct qualification and a repechage.

2000–present: the new millennium

In 2000, Hong Kong made history when they played China in 2000; this was the first test that Hong Kong played against a team from the Chinese mainland since 1949. The game was played in Shanghai to honor the old rugby matches between Hong Kong and Shanghai. China upset Hong Kong 17 to 15 that day.

Hong Kong struggled somewhat during the early 2000s. In 2001, Hong Kong were once again surprised by China, drawing at 25 points each in Guangzhou. Hong Kong were once again upset by the Chinese Taipei in the 2003 Rugby World Cup qualifiers, losing 20 to 15, although Hong Kong beat China for the first time in that same qualification. Hong Kong lost all its fixtures in the final round of the 2007 Rugby World Cup qualifying campaign, missing out again on repechage or qualification.

The 2011 qualifying campaign was similar: Hong Kong beat both South Korea as well as newcomers Kazakhstan, but lost a crucial fixture to the Arabian Gulf; due to bonus points, Kazakhstan advanced instead of Hong Kong to the repechage.

For the 2015 qualifiers, Hong Kong finally broke through. Hong Kong were drawn into a group including its traditional East Asian rivals Japan and South Korea as well as Sri Lanka and newcomers the Philippines. Hong Kong thrashed South Korea 39 to 6 in Hong Kong, as well as recording a resounding 108 to 0 victory over the Philippines. Hong Kong finished second, and qualified for the repechage as a result. In the repechage versus Uruguay, in Montevideo, Hong Kong held firm for the first half, only trailing 6 to 3; however, Hong Kong indiscipline, coupled with key players not being available, meant that Hong Kong collapsed in the second half, losing 28 to 3, and bowing out of the qualifiers.

At the end of 2015, Hong Kong hosted the 2015 Cup of Nations, which included 3 other emerging rugby nations: Portugal, Russia, and Zimbabwe. Hong Kong finished second, beating Portugal and Zimbabwe but losing to Russia. In 2016, Hong Kong hired Leigh Jones, Japan's defense coach who played a key role in Japan's epic upset of South Africa in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, to take the role of head coach and high performance in Hong Kong.[5]

In order to further build for future success, the HKRU, under the vision of Leigh Jones, launched its first fully professional 15s programme called the Elite Rugby Program; the goal of the programme is to encourage domestic players to pursue rugby as a profession in Hong Kong, and long-term, create a professional competition akin to Japan's Top League.[6]

In the 2016 Cup of Nations, Hong Kong lost to Russia and won over Zimbabwe and Papua New Guinea. In the 2017 Cup of Nations, the team was defeated again by Russia, while beating Chile and Kenya.

Hong Kong will participate in the inaugural season of World Series Rugby, facing off against the Western Force.

Overall

Top 30 as of 5 February 2024[7]
Rank Change* Team Points
1 Steady  South Africa 094.54
2 Steady  Ireland 092.11
3 Steady  New Zealand 089.80
4 Steady  France 086.28
5 Steady  England 085.80
6 Steady  Scotland 084.45
7 Steady  Argentina 080.68
8 Steady  Wales 079.62
9 Steady  Australia 077.48
10 Steady  Fiji 076.38
11 Steady  Italy 075.58
12 Steady  Japan 074.27
13 Increase1  Georgia 072.68
14 Increase1  Samoa 072.23
15 Increase1  Tonga 071.57
16 Decrease3  Portugal 070.78
17 Steady  United States 067.94
18 Steady  Uruguay 067.39
19 Increase1  Spain 063.46
20 Decrease1  Romania 063.40
21 Steady  Canada 060.90
22 Steady  Namibia 060.56
23 Steady  Chile 060.49
24 Steady  Hong Kong 059.80
25 Steady  Russia 058.06
26 Increase3  Belgium 056.58
27 Decrease1   Switzerland 056.29
28 Steady  Brazil 055.37
27 Decrease2  Netherlands 055.24
30 Steady  South Korea 053.46
* Change from the previous week
Hong Kong's historical rankings
Graphs are unavailable due to technical issues. There is more info on Phabricator and on MediaWiki.org.
See or edit source data.
Source: World Rugby[7]
Graph updated to 25 December 2023

Below is table of the representative rugby matches played by a Hong Kong national XV. [8][9][10]

Opponent Played Won Lost Drawn Win % For Aga Diff
Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf Arabian Gulf 6 4 2 0 66.67% 101 115 -14
Australia Australian Universities 2 1 0 1 50% 14 8 +6
 Belgium 4 3 1 0 75% 94 73 +21
 Brazil 1 1 0 0 100% 37 3 +34
 Canada 7 1 6 0 14.29% 109 209 -100
 Chile 1 1 0 0 100% 13 6 +7
 China 5 3 1 1 60% 108 81 +27
 Chinese Taipei 19 13 5 1 68.42% 638 295 +343
 Cook Islands 2 2 0 0 100% 77 3 +74
 Czech Republic 1 0 1 0 0.00% 5 17 -12
 England XV 1 0 1 0 0.00% 0 26 -26
 Fiji 3 0 3 0 0.00% 33 155 -122
 France XV 1 0 1 0 0.00% 6 26 -20
 Germany 4 2 2 0 50% 98 76 +22
 Japan 28 4 24 0 14.29% 370 1212 -842
 Japan XV 9 1 8 0 11.11% 86 299 -213
 Kazakhstan 5 4 1 0 80% 126 67 +59
 Kenya 7 4 2 1 57.14% 220 169 +51
 Malaysia 11 11 0 0 100% 643 86 +557
 Namibia 1 0 1 0 0.00% 12 22 -10
 Netherlands 2 0 1 1 0.00% 10 25 -15
New Zealand New Zealand U–23 1 0 1 0 0.00% 0 47 -47
New Zealand New Zealand Universities 5 0 5 0 0.00% 25 142 -117
 Norway 1 1 0 0 100% 59 17 +42
 Papua New Guinea 3 3 0 0 100% 79 26 +53
 Philippines 3 3 0 0 100% 241 30 +211
 Portugal 2 1 1 0 50% 27 48 -21
 Russia 5 0 5 0 0.00% 62 144 -82
 Scotland XV 1 0 1 0 0.00% 6 42 -36
 Singapore 13 11 2 0 84.62% 540 112 +428
 South Korea 35 19 16 0 54.29% 901 785 +116
 Spain 1 0 1 0 0.00% 7 29 -22
 Sri Lanka 9 9 0 0 100% 431 84 +347
 Thailand 9 6 3 0 66.67% 289 89 +200
 Tonga 1 0 0 1 0.00% 22 44 -22
 Tunisia 2 1 1 0 50% 34 41 -7
 United Arab Emirates 5 5 0 0 100% 325 65 +260
 United States 8 4 4 0 50% 198 201 -3
 Uruguay 1 0 1 0 0.00% 3 28 -25
 Wales XV 1 0 1 0 0.00% 3 57 -54
 Zimbabwe 3 3 0 0 100% 86 29 +57
Total 227 120 102 5 52.86% 6063 5007 +1056

Tournament history

Rugby World Cup

World Cup record World Cup Qualification record
Year Round P W D L F A P W D L F A
AustraliaNew Zealand 1987 Not invited -
United KingdomRepublic of IrelandFrance 1991 did not enter did not enter
South Africa 1995 did not qualify 3 3 0 1 354 67
Wales 1999 did not qualify 3 1 0 2 39 88
Australia 2003 did not qualify 4 3 0 1 81 42
France 2007 did not qualify 4 2 0 2 79 243
New Zealand 2011 did not qualify 4 2 0 2 65 133
England 2015 did not qualify 9 5 0 4 333 201
Japan 2019 did not qualify 9 7 0 2 365 117
Total 0/9 0 0 0 0 0 0 36 23 0 13 1316 891

Asia Rugby Championship

Asia Rugby Championship record
Year Round P W D L F A
Hong Kong 1972 Runner-up 3 2 0 1 35 22
Sri Lanka 1974 Fifth place 3 1 0 2 43 61
Malaysia 1978 Fifth place 3 0 1 2 9 26
Taiwan 1980 Third place 4 3 0 1 231 51
Singapore 1982 Third place 4 3 0 1 76 41
Japan 1984 Fifth place 3 1 0 2 67 70
Hong Kong 1988 Third place 4 3 0 1 61 76
Sri Lanka 1990 Third place 4 2 0 2 93 56
Hong Kong 1992 Runners up 4 3 0 1 156 66
Malaysia 1994 Third place 4 3 0 1 354 67
Taiwan 1996 Third place 4 3 0 1 298 49
Singapore 1998 Third place 3 1 0 2 39 88
Japan 2000 Fourth place 3 0 0 3 47 136
Thailand 2002 Third place 3 1 0 2 50 85
Hong Kong 2004 Third place 2 1 0 1 75 47
Hong Kong 2006–07 Third place 2 0 0 2 8 75
Hong KongJapanKazakhstanQatarSouth KoreaUnited Arab Emirates 2008 Third place 4 2 0 2 96 154
Hong KongJapanKazakhstanSingaporeSouth Korea 2009 Fourth place 4 1 0 3 110 126
BahrainHong KongJapanKazakhstanSouth KoreaUnited Arab Emirates 2010 Third place 4 2 0 2 65 133
Hong KongJapanKazakhstanSri LankaUnited Arab Emirates 2011 Runners-up 4 3 0 1 155 61
Hong KongJapanKazakhstanSouth KoreaUnited Arab Emirates 2012 Third place 2 2 0 2 159 98
Hong KongJapanPhilippinesSouth KoreaUnited Arab Emirates 2013 Third place 4 2 0 2 134 108
Hong KongJapanPhilippinesSouth KoreaSri Lanka 2014 Runners-up 4 3 0 1 196 65
Hong KongJapanSouth Korea 2015 Runners-up 4 1 1 2 64 111
Hong KongJapanSouth Korea 2016 Runners-up 4 2 0 2 95 139
Hong KongJapanSouth Korea 2017 Runners-up 4 2 0 2 99 65
Hong KongMalaysiaSouth Korea 2018 Champions 4 4 0 0 227 44
Hong KongMalaysiaSouth Korea 2019 Champions 4 4 0 0 212 37
Hong KongMalaysiaSouth Korea 2022 Champions 1 1 0 0 23 21
Hong KongMalaysiaSouth Korea 2023 Champions 2 2 0 0 118 19
Total 4 titles 102 59 2 42 3392 2155

Players

Current squad

On 10 October, Hong Kong named their traveling squad for the 2023 RWC Final Qualification Tournament in Dubai.

Head Coach: Wales Leigh Jones

Caps updated: 4 November 2022

Note: Flags indicate national union for the club/province as defined by World Rugby.

Player Position Date of birth (age) Caps Club/province
John McCormick-Houston Hooker (1989-08-03) 3 August 1989 (age 34) 2 Hong Kong Hong Kong FC
Lam Jak-shing Hooker (1989-08-03) 3 August 1989 (age 34) 0 Hong Kong Sandy Bay
Alexander Post Hooker (1995-10-10) 10 October 1995 (age 28) 9 England Old Albanian
Zacceus Cinnamond Prop (1994-08-25) 25 August 1994 (age 29) 1 Hong Kong Sandy Bay
Ian Etheridge Prop (1996-08-16) 16 August 1996 (age 27) 1 Hong Kong USRC Tigers
Benjamin Higgins Prop (1992-07-15) 15 July 1992 (age 31) 20 Hong Kong Valley
Ashton Hyde Prop (2000-11-28) 28 November 2000 (age 23) 2 Hong Kong Sandy Bay
Callum McFeat-Smith Prop (1996-03-08) 8 March 1996 (age 27) 6 Hong Kong Hong Kong FC
Faizal Solomona Prop (1992-03-19) 19 March 1992 (age 31) 7 Hong Kong Valley
James Cunningham Lock (1990-03-18) 18 March 1990 (age 33) 25 Hong Kong Valley
Jamie Pincott Lock (1995-09-16) 16 September 1995 (age 28) 5 Hong Kong Hong Kong Scottish
Mark Prior Lock (1998-09-08) 8 September 1998 (age 25) 3 Hong Kong Sandy Bay
Josh Hrstich Back row (1998-11-28) 28 November 1998 (age 25) 1 Hong Kong USRC Tigers
Patrick Jenkinson Back row (1995-01-01) 1 January 1995 (age 29) 2 Hong Kong Hong Kong FC
Gregor Ramage Back row (1998-05-27) 27 May 1998 (age 25) 9 Wales Cardiff University
James Sawyer Back row (1993-05-23) 23 May 1993 (age 30) 4 Hong Kong Kowloon RFC
Luke van der Smit Back row (1994-06-29) 29 June 1994 (age 29) 2 Hong Kong Valley
Jack Combes Scrum-half (1997-05-28) 28 May 1997 (age 26) 1 England Birmingham Moseley
Jamie Lauder Scrum-half (1992-03-18) 18 March 1992 (age 31) 11 Hong Kong Hong Kong FC
Bryn Phillips Scrum-half (1992-09-23) 23 September 1992 (age 31) 7 Hong Kong Kowloon
Nickolas Cumming Fly-half (1982-04-02) 2 April 1982 (age 41) 0 Hong Kong Sandy Bay
Glyn Hughes Fly-half (1991-11-17) 17 November 1991 (age 32) 1 Hong Kong Hong Kong FC
Gregor McNeish Fly-half (1994-06-28) 28 June 1994 (age 29) 3 Hong Kong Hong Kong Scottish
Tom Hill Centre (1989-10-20) 20 October 1989 (age 34) 2 Hong Kong Hong Kong FC
Jack Neville Centre (1992-05-16) 16 May 1992 (age 31) 7 England Nottingham
Guy Spanton Centre (1994-08-26) 26 August 1994 (age 29) 3 Hong Kong Sandy Bay
Charles Higson-Smith Wing (1991-08-03) 3 August 1991 (age 32) 10 Hong Kong Hong Kong FC
Matt Worley Wing (1997-09-06) 6 September 1997 (age 26) 1 England Bedford Blues
Nathan de Thierry Fullback (1994-02-14) 14 February 1994 (age 30) 3 Australia Hunter Wildfires
Sean Taylor Fullback (1991-03-13) 13 March 1991 (age 32) 0 Hong Kong Hong Kong Scottish

Records

Most Appearances

  1. Nick Hewson – 58
  2. David Lewis – 55
  3. Rowan Varty – 42

Notable former players

The Hong Kong Rugby Union has inducted 16 players into its Hall of Fame as part of its Roll of Honour. Some of these players include;

Past Coaches

Years Coach
1987–1992 England Jim Rowark
1993–1998 New Zealand George Simpkin
1998–2001 New Zealand Phil Campbell
2001–2003 New Zealand Chris Roden
2004–2007 England Ivan Torpey
2007–2008 New Zealand John Walters
2008–2014 Wales Dai Rees
2014–2015 Scotland Andrew Hall
2016–2018 Wales Leigh Jones
2019–2021 Scotland Andrew Hall
2021 New Zealand Craig Hammond 1
2021 England Simon Armor (Interim) 1
2022 Wales Lewis Evans

See also

References

  1. ^ "Hong Kong Rugby Union". Asia Rugby. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  2. ^ "The History of Sport Played in China's Treaty Ports". treatyportsport.com. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  3. ^ "Hong Kong Rugby Roll of Honour". Hong Kong Rugby Union. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  4. ^ Signes, Emil. "History of the Hong Kong Sevens". Rugby7.com. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  5. ^ Porteous, James (18 January 2016). "Leigh Jones helped mastermind Japan's stunning Rugby World Cup campaign – now he aims to do the same for Hong Kong". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  6. ^ "Hong Kong Rugby Union launches first fully professional 15s programme". hongkong.coconuts.co. Hong Kong cocounuts.co. 24 March 2016. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  7. ^ a b "Men's World Rankings". World Rugby. Retrieved 5 February 2024.
  8. ^ Hong Kong rugby stats
  9. ^ "Hong Kong International Rugby Results". rugbyinternational.net. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  10. ^ "Hong Kong Results". RugbyData. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  11. ^ Craig Hammond Appointed new HKRU Men’s National Head Coach
  12. ^ FULL CIRCLE: CRAIG HAMMOND TAKES UP COACHING ROLE AT NOTTINGHAM RFC
  13. ^ Hong Kong rugby appoint England legend Simon Amor as interim men’s 15s head coach to oversee Asia Rugby Championship title defence
  14. ^ Hong Kong rugby interim head coach Simon Amor takes new leadership role with Japan’s national sevens programme
Awards Preceded byHong Kong national women's table tennis team Hong Kong Sports Stars AwardTeam Only Sport 2004 Succeeded bySun Hei