Hong Kong ‘here to stay’ despite falling short at World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series

“It was such a disappointment yesterday [against Georgia] that to come back today says a lot about us. We’re here to stay, Hong Kong. We’ve got a goal to achieve and we fell short this time around, but we’re not going anywhere, we’re going to keep pushing.”

Hong Kong’s Russell Webb (left) and Alexander McQueen celebrate in the match against Uganda at the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series in Santiago, Chile. Photo: World Rugby

The veteran member of the squad said the past couple of years had brought the team closer together, but there were “exciting things happening” and he was “looking forward to the future”.

“We’re close, we’re like family, with the Covid situation in Hong Kong it’s forced us to do a lot of ‘in camps’,” Webb said. “We see each other every day, this is our family away from family. I can’t love them enough, we’re really, really close as a team and we’re only going to better.”

Hong Kong will now head to South Africa to prepare for next month’s World Cup, and Jordanne Grey, the Hong Kong Rugby Union’s head of brand and communications, said the city should be proud of the team.

“We know the boys will be hurting over their quarter-final loss,” Gray said. “But the way they came back to play some great rugby on day three demonstrates the high level of respect they have for competing teams, their fans, and each other, which makes us incredibly proud.

“With the Rugby World Cup Sevens, Asian Sevens Series and the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens all still to come in 2022, there’s plenty on the calendar to play for.”

Harry Sayers on day one of the 2022 World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series.  Photo: World Rugby

Harry Sayers on day one of the 2022 World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series. Photo: World Rugby

Following three days of energy-sapping action, Japan dug deep to turn in an impressive performance in the women’s final, beating European champions Poland 17-0.

“Finally, we’ve done it. It’s been a really long time,” said forward Chiharu Nakamura, who scored her side’s opening try against Poland.

In the men’s final, Georgia ultimately paid the price for first-half indiscipline as Uruguay scored three tries to win 19-5.

Hong Kong's Max Denmark in action against Uganda.  Photo: Fotogramax

Hong Kong’s Max Denmark in action against Uganda. Photo: Fotogramax

Neither of the men’s finalists had previously been a core Series team but it was Uruguay who appeared to cope better with the pressure of the showpiece match.

Georgia were twice reduced to six players in the first half, both for not retreating 10 meters, and Los Teros took advantage on each occasion, scoring through Felipe Etcheverry and Bautista Basso.

Basso himself was shown a yellow card on the stroke of half-time and Georgia found a way back into the contest at the start of the second as Giorgi Tchuadze touched down within a minute of the restart.

However, that was as close as they got to Uruguay, who only made it out of Pool C as one of the best third-placed finishers and confirmed their place on the 2023 Series when Valentin Grille scored late on.

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