After their opening game of the 2017 Women’s
Rugby World Cup in Dublin, Ireland
against the 2013
runners-up, Canada (ranked 2nd in the world), Hong Kong have the
daunting task of
playing New Zealand, currently ranked third in the world, on
Sunday at 12:00 (19:00 Hong Kong time).
National coach Jo Hull has made several changes
to the squad, with Royce Chan Leong-sze starting at hooker and
Christine Gordon starting at No.8 in an effort to prevent New
Zealand from establishing too much momentum in the forwards.
Changes in the backline see ‘BB’ Lee Tsz-ting
start at fly-half with emerging star Kelsie Bouttle getting her
first start at centre and Lau Sze-wa coming in at full-back.
“We have four games just as hard as Canada, so
the selection reflects the need to use all of the squad to manage
that. Part of it is managing the player requirement, but also
getting selection right for New Zealand. We’ve gone with the team that we think gives us
the best chance to halt their momentum. Defensively, we have some
strong players on the pitch and are asking our stalwarts to get
amongst them. At the same time, we’ve gone with BB [Lee Tsz-ting]
at 10 because she gives us a nice attacking option. If we have
ball in hand we want to play some attractive rugby,” Hull said.
Hong Kong will have to dig deep to fend off a
New Zealand team that was slow out of the blocks against Wales in
an eventual 44-12 win.
“Our tackling must improve. We have got to get
them to ground quickly and stop them from building any momentum.
We gave Canada too much time with the ball. You can only hold out
so long defensively if you are letting your opponents generate all
of the momentum. Canada had big, world-class athletes and you
can’t give them space with the ball. It will be more of the same
against New Zealand and I actually expect them to be tougher than
Canada. They will have found their stride after that first game
against Wales. New Zealand are a seasoned side, so I’m
expecting them to be at another level. They are more clinical than
Canada. We forced 11 errors against Canada. New Zealand won’t
allow that,” Hull added.
Hull’s side is aware of the challenge but eager
to front up again on the world stage.
“We’re feeling positive and excited to play New
Zealand. We’ve had two tests against non-Asian opponents in our
history and now we’re playing the 2nd and 3rd ranked teams in the
world within the space of a week. For the 23rd ranked team in the
world it’s a huge honour and a real positive for us. There’s a lot of pride in the locker room over
our spirited performance against Canada, but we aren’t satisfied
with how we played. We take heart from our performance, but we
know we still have a lot to improve on. Mentally we’re in a good
place. We’re not okay with
losing 98-0 and personal accountability
in our performance is hugely important and has to improve. That’s
the challenge for us over the next few days,” she said.
Hull said her team is thrilled by the experience
of being at the World Cup and has been buoyed by strong support
from a large contingent of travelling fans as well as the neutrals
inside the stadium.
“It’s been incredible. The team has been touched
by the support we’ve received. Support from the crowd really
lifted our performance against Canada. Even at 70 minutes, we were
attacking, lifted by the crowd, through what was a rough 80
minutes. We need that to continue over the coming days. Some real
positives are emerging. We showed warrior toughness against
Canada, but it’s not good enough to leave it at that. We have to
back that up now. We need a better performance than last week and
against another world-class team,” Hull added.
Hong Kong Rugby Union WRWC 2017 Squad
Forwards: 1. LAU Nga-wun, Tammy; 2. CHAN Leong-sze,
Royce; 3 WONG Yuen-shan; 4. CHOW Mei-nam (captain); 5. TSANG Sin-yan;
6. Amelie SEURE; 7. Winnie SIU; 8. Christine GORDON. Backs: 9.
Jessica HO Wai-on; 10. LEE Tsz-ting 11. CHONG Ka-yan; 12. Kelsie
BOUTTLE; 13. Natasha OLSON-THORNE; 14. Laurel CHOR Lik-fung; 15.
LAU Sze-wah. Reserves: 16. HO Hoi-lam; 17. LEE Ka-shun; 18. PUN
Wai-yan; 19. CHENG Ka-chi, Christy; 20. CHAN Ka-yan; 21. Lindsay
VARTY; 22. Rose HOPEWELL-FONG Siu-lan (pictured above); 23. Colleen TJOSVOLD
Pictures from 2017 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens,
Pictures from 2016 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong
Pictures of Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2015,
Pictures of the Asia Rugby Sevens Olympic Games Qualifier in Hong
Pictures of Singha Thailand Sevens 2015,
Pictures from the 2013 British & Irish Lions Tour in Hong Kong,
Pictures of Hong Kong Sevens 2014,
Pictures of Hong Kong Sevens 2013,
of Chartis Cup 2012 and
Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2012.