Five Clubs, One Squad, Two Teams, Two Trophies!

So, on 2nd to 4th March the U11 Hong Kong Barbarians toured to Calcutta to compete in the Future Hope tournament. This squad comprised seven players from the Club, plus four from Sai Kung Stingrays, and one from each of USRC, Valley (though now living in Beijing) and Manhattan RFC (yep, Paul Dally flew from New York to join his mates). The format was Sevens so we entered two teams: Team Spartan and Team Trojan. Each team being selected from the squad to ensure balance and not along legacy lines.

The squad (or at least those who were available) had benefited from four pre-tour training sessions led by Steve Jones, assisted by Mark Blumberg (SKS), Leo Stemp (USRC) and Tony Falso (Club) to understand “the mystical art of Sevens”.

Friday morning our hosts unleashed the Hindu festival of “Holi” upon us: the festival of colours. It signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of winter; a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair broken relationships. That meant a free-for-all festival of colours, where players, coaches, and others smeared each other with coloured powder. Happily, our hosts chose to avoid unleashing water guns to drench everyone. What better way to start a rugby tour!

The afternoon was a session on the training paddock … literally a horse exercise paddock.

Day one was group phase: Team Spartan drawn in group A were unbeaten and won the group. Team Trojan encountered two local teams where age regulation was plainly a challenge (some opposing players being chest, shoulders and head taller and seemingly sporting facial growth). After protests to the tournament director some safety measures were imposed. Trojans, notwithstanding a head injury requiring a HIA and numerous high tackles, defeated the first team of “giants” (“bigger they are, the harder they fall” was heard being shouted across the field) but lost by a try to the second team of “Hagrids”. Resulting in a group second place. And that led to an all Barbarians Cup Semi-Final.

Day two: last words spoken to the squad in the changing room, before the semi-final: “we are running hot, we have no finishers, do not damage each other”. Within a couple of minutes there was a crunching tackle, a Spartan went down and off, and off to hospital with a fractured shoulder. Trojans won and were Cup Runners Up to the first team of “giants” they had defeated in the group phase. Spartans progressed to win the Plate.

So, the squad came, in the tournament, second and third. Silverware is now progressing around NY, Beijing and Hong Kong for numerous “show and tells” at various schools.

The squad: Sam Blackburn (Beijing & Valley); Ben Blumberg (SKS); Alfie Carroll (SKS); Oliver Brock (HKFC); Paul Dally (Manhattan RFC); Dominic Falso (HKFC); Alby Giradello (SKS); Gustavo Hendricks (HKFC): Thomas King (SKS); Lleyton Lam (HKFC); Eliot Marshall (HKFC); Ciaran Pollard (HKFC); Felix Spooner (HKFC); Haruki Stemp (USRC).

Denis Brock, Team Manager