Hong Kong may have disappointingly missed out on an opportunity to qualify for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, but there is plenty on the horizon to get their teeth into.
A 28-7 defeat to Ireland in the final will have been hard to swallow having won all five of their opening matches, but Paul John’s side now have an opportunity to play against the world’s elite this weekend at the Singapore Sevens.
Following that, an Asia Rugby Sevens Series awaits before perhaps the most important tournament of all – the Olympic Games qualifier in Korea in November.
With Japan already guaranteed a place as hosts, Asia will have at least one more representative in Tokyo next year, something Hong Kong are well aware of according to Seb Brien.
“The boys will be able to take a huge amount of confidence from Hong Kong and the gold medal at the Asian Games,” said Brien.
“Olympic qualification is constantly at the back of everyone’s minds, but we have to focus on each challenge we face before then.
“We’ve got a chance to play on the world series in Singapore this weekend and so hopefully we can ride off the back off some good victories over Tonga and Chile in Hong Kong and cause some upsets on the big stage.
“The Olympics is the pinnacle of nearly all sports and to have a chance to represent Hong Kong and Asian rugby on the global stage would be unbelievable.
“All I wanted to do growing up was play rugby and I never realised how many opportunities it would actually present and now actually having a very real chance to go to the Olympics is insane and makes all the hard work worthwhile.”
Taking the positive approach
Despite the loss against Ireland, Hong Kong will take many positives away from their campaign as Brien explains.
“Obviously it was majorly disappointing to fall short at the final hurdle but overall the experience was great this year,” added Brien.
“Ireland were always going to be tough with their pool of players, the amount of resources they’ve put into their programme over the past couple of years and the experience they gained from some great results on the world series last year.
“In the nature of sevens, anything can happen and we have full belief in ourselves going into the final but ultimately we were outclassed. We have a great base to build on and, hopefully, with some tweaks, we can give ourselves a real opportunity to make the world series next year.
Power of the collective
“I didn’t feel nerves to the same extent as on my debut last year so I really made a point of enjoying the atmosphere and playing in front of such a great crowd.
“I feel our identity as a team has really come a long way in the past year and I feel we really managed to express what Hong Kong are about at this year’s sevens.
“We started playing for each other and took all individuality away and all 12 contributed a huge amount which can only be a positive going forward.”