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Bright start to 2023 at HKRU New Year’s Day Youth Rugby Tournament

After the pandemic affected tournaments of recent years, the Hong Kong Rugby community was out in full force to welcome the year and cheer on the future of Hong Kong Rugby in the 2023 New Year’s Day Youth Rugby Tournament, sponsored by Hysan Development and First Point USA, at Hong Kong Football Club.

Over 1,500 players, officials, friends and family, and other supporters attended today’s festivities. The stars of the show did not disappoint either, with four highly entertaining and close run matches to ring in 2023.

The U16s girls started the showpiece strongly in the Naylor Cup match with Hong Kong Lions edging their Dragons counterparts 24-10, with prop Zanzi Falahati of HKU Sandy Bay RFC named Best & Fairest.

Their age grade counterparts also entertained in the George White Trophy match for Boys U16s. Dragons pulled away with two late tries to widen a 10-7 tussle into a final 24-7 victory with Oliver Sinclair of Valley Fort RFC winning the coveted Larry Abel Trophy for Best & Fairest player.

Hong Kong’s elite junior talent was on full display in the U19s Lassies Quaich match with a greater representation of overseas based schools players taking part in 2023.

The two teams battled to a 10-all draw at the end of regulation time but Dragons scored at the outset of the golden point extra time to run out 17-10 winners. Flying Kukris prop Jade Scrouther was named Best & Fairest.

After a hiatus due to overseas travel complications, the New Year’s Day Youth Tournament welcomed the return of a full overseas based students team in the match that started it all, the Middlesex Cup for Boys U19s, first played in 1967.

With a fully overseas based U19s schoolboys appearing for the first time in years - facing off against a local outfit of age grade counterparts on a high after providing a majority of the players in the Hong Kong U19s team that won the Asia Rugby junior championship in December - the action was expected to be close.

And it was for the opening three-quarters of the game.

The Overseas Lions led just 7-0 after an opening half of end to end action with both sides enjoying numerous scoring chances and exhibiting some steady defence to keep matters on a razor’s edge.

Down the stretch, the size and weight advantage of the overseas forwards came to the fore as the Lions pushed their lead to 12-0 inside the final 10 minutes of the game after a long developing try that started in their own half found the gaps in a tiring Dragons defence.

The Lions widened the gap six minutes later with their third try coming off set piece play from inside the Dragons 22-metres.

The Dragons replied well to bring the play back into the Lions’ den at the end of the game, but the final passes failed to go to hand and they were unable to put any points on the board against their overseas compatriots in an eventual 19-0 defeat.

Centre Trent Roussow was named Best & Fairest in the match.

Win or lose, this gathering of the rugby clans to ring in the new year proved that Hong Kong Rugby was the winner.

Information and Photo Source : Hong Kong Rugby Union

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