Former captain of the Hong Kong rugby team and long-term Clearwater Bay resident, Andrew Chambers reflects on his glory days at the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens, interviewed by Adele Rosi.
How long have you lived in the area?
I have lived here since arriving in Hong Kong in 1982 with my parents. We lived in Clearwater Bay and I went to KGV School. I spent a short time away at De Montfort University in England and I lived in Causeway Bay for a year. Pollution and congestion were just two of the many reasons to hit the Kung again and I returned with my wife, Gemma, in 2004.
What is your favourite aspect of Sai Kung?
The outdoor possibilities. The running. The country parks. I’m a big fan of family time so I enjoy hitting the beaches and going for walks with the dog.
Give us your rugby career in a nutshell.
At seven, I started playing rugby for the under-eights team at the Kai Tak Tigers mini rugby club. It’s not around anymore as it merged with DeA rugby club in 2002. I have played 38 times for Hong Kong’s first XV, and played in 14 IRB (International Rugby Board) Sevens tournaments and two World Cup Sevens tournaments. I also captained the Hong Kong team for two years – from 2007-2009 – and now play at club level for the Hong Kong Football Club.
How much training did you have to put in as a member of the Hong Kong team?
After Hong Kong rugby went semi-professional several years ago, we trained as a squad two evenings a week and went to the gym daily.
Greatest Sevens moment?
Scoring against Australia in the Rugby World Cup in 2005.
Any memorable South Stand moments – good, bad or ugly?
No bad South Stand moments. It’s where you want to score.
Too many rank as the worst. I’ve broken my arm three times, dislocated my shoulder and my elbow, broken my collar bone and my nose, and had more stitches than I can remember. My last injury – still making me hobble – is a subluxated hip [partial hip dislocation]. But the stitches are the worst – I hate needles!
Do you miss playing rugby for Hong Kong?
Hong Kong rugby has more strength and depth than ever before and as the game moves forwards so do the demands. Sevens is a young man’s game and we are lucky in Hong Kong that we have a lot of excellent young players. I do miss it very much but I also recognise that I had great fun. The time is right for others to have a blast.
What in your opinion makes the Sevens such a special tournament?
The Hong Kong Sevens is the best event in the world. The players will all tell you the same thing. The crowd is there for a good time but they also know their rugby, and being so international and eclectic means there is support for everyone.
How do you think ticket allocation for the Sevens could be improved?
More people should join and support local rugby – tickets are included in the membership. The sevens is a great means to generate season-long support and fund local rugby. And it ensures “real” rugby fans are at the Sevens.
How do you rate Hong Kong’s chances this year?
The Hong Kong team has a lot of experience and some young bodies. Mark Wright is capable of playing in any team in the world so we have genuine class. The Bowl final is well within range.
What advice would you give to aspiring Sai Kung Stingray players?
Play for fun and work on your weaknesses. Don’t neglect them because they’ll only get worse.