Rugby Season is here

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The Rising Stars

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Kaitlyn Hart

Sai Kung Stingrays

I am 16 years old and I started playing rugby ten years ago when Sai Kung Stingrays was formed. My dad, being one of the founders of the club, introduced me to rugby. I think I am the only player left at the club who was there from the start. I also play for my school King George V. I like the competitive nature along with the physicality. The team and I have so much respect for the coaches, managers and fellow team mates. One of my roles as loosehead prop is to drive the ball into contact and to create space for the backs to run and score. My body position is very important, particularly when running the ball forward into contact, scrummaging and tackling. This is my first season playing in the U19s, and it was a big step up as it is far more competitive. At the start of the season, I was selected to trial for the Hong Kong National Age Grade and the HKRU coaches gave me constructive comments to improve. I took it on board and in February this year, I was very happy to learn that I was selected join the National Age Grade program. Time management is a challenge as it gets difficult balancing school and rugby. Depending on the time of the season, training is held twice a week with Sai Kung Stingrays, and along with Hong Kong National Age Grade training and school rugby, it can become hectic. If presented with the opportunity to play at a professional level, I would go for it. Even if this doesn’t happen, I will still play club rugby. It’s a great way to stay fit and meet people. I’m looking forward to this year’s Sevens tournament, it will be my 10th Sevens in a row. One of the highlights will be going to support the Hong Kong Women’s Sevens. Being born and raised in Hong Kong, with an Aussie dad and an American mum, I have no shortage of teams to support! It’s important to be open minded and give rugby a go before you dismiss it. It’s an inclusive sport, there is always a place for someone whether they are big or small, fast or slow. We are not just a team; we are best friends. On and off the field, there is nothing one of us wouldn’t do for each other.

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Tom Solarz

Valley Fort Rugby Club 

I am a New Zealander but I was born in Hong Kong. I have three older sisters and we’re a rugby mad family, maybe it’s something to do with being a Kiwi. I started playing rugby when I was in the U7s with Valley Fort. Once I finish this season it will be my 10th year playing. My team is like my family. I’ve played with many of the guys for years now. In rugby, it’s about every player on the field needing to do their job in order to make the engine run. You don’t find that in all sports. Depending on the season and the year, I train three times a week, with both my school (CDNIS) and Valley Fort. One of my biggest achievements was playing for the Hong Kong national squad in 2013-14 season, where I had five training sessions a week. I learned a lot and improved as a player. The main challenges I face when playing are that I am not the biggest, nor the fastest on the pitch. This means that when I’m running with the ball, I cannot outpace the other team and I can’t run over them either. I am a halfback, and in my position you have to support a lot and if I do end up getting the ball I need to go as hard and as fast as I can. It would be a long journey ahead to play rugby professionally but a journey I would like to take. Since I was young, I have wanted to play for the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team and I will be supporting them as they are my home team. My favourite players are Piri Weepu, Jimmy Cowan and Aaron Smith, it would be the biggest honour to play with them. What I’ve learned is that everyone has to start somewhere. If you can’t pass or tackle, keep trying and practicing, you will get there. If you’re committed, you will never fail, you will only make mistakes that you can improve on.

Flying Kukris

Premier youth rugby club, Flying Kukris’ minis programme welcomes boys and girls aged four years and older. Training is held across different sports ground including Tseung Kwan O Stadium and HKIEd Sports Ground in Tai Po. Membership for one child starts from $750 including jersey, shorts and socks. www.flyingkukris.com.

Hong Kong Football Club

Providing a fun introduction into rugby, the club runs programmes for children from ages four-19. As well as festivals, leagues and tournaments throughout the season. Registration fees range from $1,800-$2,200. www.hkfcyouthrugby.com

RugBees

RugBees introduces key rugby skills through play-based activity with a ‘play and learn’ ethos. There are three programmes, TinyBees, TippyBees and ToddlerBees for children from two years old. Individual classes start from $260 with a $250 registration fee for new members. www.rugbees.hk

Sai Kung Stingrays

Founded by a group of Sai Kung-based parents, Sai Kung Stingrays have become from age four to late teens, providing support to progress onto a senior level. Membership fees range between $960-$1,480 depending on age. www.saikungstingrays.org

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Sport4Kids

A non-contact program for children from 18-months to seven years old which focuses on skill development, coordination and teamwork, with a foundation of tackling and safety techniques as they get older. Classes held at Hong Kong Academy, Hang Hau Space and Kennedy Town. Most classes are $150 per child. www.sport4kids.hk

USRC Tigers

Based at King’s Park, USRC Tigers club members can develop from minis to youth and continue their sporting career within the same team at a senior level. Membership fees range between $1,000-$1,500 depending on age. www.usrctigers.com

Valley Fort Rugby Football Club

With over 750 members in the mini and youth sections, the Valley Fort Rugby Football club welcomes players of all abilities, starting with U5s all the way through to U18s. Membership rates starts from $1,000. www. valleyfort.com

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