7-8 JULY 2018


Some strong local and international opposition for our Hong Kong National U18Gs, with four (!) Pirates U16s Florence Symonds, Nancy McGillivray, Shanna Forrest and Anjalika Ybema.

The Pirates / Stingrays touring squad having been invited back after their successes at the U18 Tournoi des Capitales in September 2017, the HKRU decided to send a national squad to the Youth World Games, held in Noisy-le-Grand in the Eastern suburbs of Paris.

Six weeks of gruelling pitch and gym sessions and a weekend camp at the HK Sports Institute meant the girls were well prepared for this event. Lack of air-conditioned hotel rooms and of training pitches proved challenging, but pool sessions and a nearby park offered relief. After all, grass not astroturf is the surface of choice for French rugby and the tournament venue.


That venue, Stade Alain Mimoun, offered a leafy green environment with plenty of shade for spectators, a welcome feature for Hong Kong supporters who had flown in in numbers.

After arrival in the team hotel close to the stadium early Wednesday morning, the squad set out for a city tour that same day, building it’s very own (human) pyramid at the Louvre. Thursday and Friday were filed with training and stretching sessions, plus the captain’s run.

On Saturday morning, the girls got off to a wobbly start against Pays de Brest, said to be reigning French U18 girls champions. The team came from behind to prevail 26-14 in what proved to be a crucial win.


This was just after odds-on favourites Tribe from Brisbane suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of local Paris suburbia team AAS Sarcelles, proving the strength of the local teams participating. Quickly recovering though, Tribe edged our girls out 26-5 and with Brest prevailing over AAS Sarcelles, all teams were level on points after two rounds.

Leaving nothing to chance, our Dragons beat Sarcelles 19-5 to go through, finishing second in the group behind Tribe. This meant a tougher job in the Cup semis against a strong Canadian development team, the Celtic Barbarians, who won all their games in group B.

Their most important -and arguably their best- game of the tournament, the Dragons defeated the Canadians in the Cup semifinal 15-7. Only slight blemishes were three missed conversions and the loss of a key player to a knee injury.

In a hotly contested and very physical final, the well-drilled Tribe girls proved too much of a handful again for our Dragons. Though helped by a yellow card for mysterious reasons and some desperately unlucky moments for Hong Kong, the Tribe deservedly won 31-5.

The joint huddle and prayer following the Cup final was a true testament to the positive spirit in which the final and the tournament was played. With our Pirates off to Sydney in a few weeks, we hope to get our opportunity at revenge Down Under !

Ralph Ybema

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