Siam Sattayaphan, Social Sec
It’s the end of yet another solid season of rugby for Hong Kong Cricket Club. First we’d like to give a big thank you to everyone who got involved in the many facets. Special mention must firstly go out to all the coaching staff who devoted countless hours both seen and unseen.
The HKCC 1st XV had another strong year finishing 2nd in the league and making to their fourth consecutive grand final. It has been a season plagued by injuries and with many of our long standing players unavailable it tested the squads depth, which was tested to its limit in the second half of the competition.
The season started slowly with a lot of new systems and structures integrated into the layers that were ready at Hong Kong Cricket club from there the team grew in both understanding and confidence and by the end of the season we had strung together five impressive results which lead up to the grand final.
Next year will see the team go through a rebuilding stage as we will look to add more quality to increase the depth and breadth of the team which is important to make the performance squad the most successful HKCC flagship team in the history of the club.
Many thanks goes out to the partners, families, supporters, the club. and management team of HKCC Rugby section and last but not least the players themselves for the continued and unparalleled support throughout the year.
Premiership A – Exiles
Exiles battled hard all year to compete with the stronger teams of the division unfortunately losing out in the semi final to a strong Valley side boasting several international players. Credit due to the many players who doubled up benching for Premiers, playing for Livestyle or coaching the girls and still playing for the team. Our young side shall hopefully stay together next year to compete in a freshened league structure.
National League 2 – Livestyle
The HKCC Livestyles inaugural season was an eventful year. It started with the merging of the Freeze and Force squads, welcomed many new players, saw some legends retire, managed at least one win against each team in the league and was rocked by the loss of one of our most loved sons in Tom Nelson. The side finished the League third overall and were knocked out in the semi finals of the Grand Championship by the eventual winners HKFC.
Joint captains John Adebiyi and Dave Hunter had contrasting styles but served the team well. The side earned respect, competing strongly on the pitch and continuing into the third half, in the true spirit of rugby, holding joint court sessions with most of our opponents.
A big welcome to new players Pat Benoist, Jonny Gabe, Tom Partridge, Donovan Ryan, Dan Henry, Graeme Rigg, JJ Bull and all the others that turned out for us over the year, thank you to my fellow coaches Andy Hall and Guy Williams for all their assistance and the best of luck to our retiring veterans John Adebiyi, Shaun Tibbatts and Paul Henkel – men you will be missed.
Congratulations to leading try scorer Andy McDonald who managed 9 tries in 11 appearances and to leading point scorer Shaun Tibbatts who tallied 69 points in 10 appearances.
We used a large squad over the year with 78 players all told representing the side, special mention to Siam Sattayaphan who topped the appearance list running out for the side 16 times as well as taking the pitch for the Raiders and Exiles when called upon.
National League 4 – Raiders
The second half of the season went particularly well. The best achievement being HKCC Raiders getting into the grand championship final and enabling the squad to aim for the goal of winning it next year.
HKCC Raiders have had a good season in National League 4. Notable moments included beating HKFC 3-0. Vintage scores like this haven’t been seen since 1891. Later in the season we awed opposition by having a substitute bench of thirty(30) players, again reminiscent of the 1875 laws where 20-a-side was the norm. Unfortunately City still managed to snatch a victory. There were many games where a vintage collection of veteran players showed glimpses of youthful vigor and vitality. In these games tag-team roll-on roll-off substitutions saw some brilliant if short impact plays from the likes of Mike Coates, Jonathan Page and John Byrne. James Mulholland and the rare, mysterious Stevie Chan were caught on camera flashing the ball and bamboosaling opposition. The newer players from last season have gone on from strength to strength and continue to show enthusiasm and desire to improve. Many senior players mentoring these young and not so young rugby players in the art and ethos of the game that is rugby are equally enthused with the game again.
Mens Development B – Marauders
A hugely successful recruitment campaign saw player numbers swell from September onwards to the point that at Christmas Raiders split into two teams. An NL4 side and the new development team Marauders. With more than ten novice players who required match time and experience we were able to join the lower half of the development league on the proviso of not winning any silver wear.
The Marauders first match of the season provided starting opportunities and playing time to 10-15 team members who had previously struggled on the pitch. And although the match ended in a loss to Valley, the boys were definitely proud of their efforts against a more experienced side. The second match saw a breakthrough for the team's first win against a weaker East Kowloon side, with a strong 40-17 win during a shortened game. Much of the season's training starting paying dividends, as both the forwards and the backs played to their strengths. The third match of the season against the CWB Contenders saw a strong effort only achieve a disappointing result after the Contenders scored two breakaway tries to end the game. The final match against the CWB Lo Xi was the team's strongest of the season, however, with the team overturning a 19 point deficit with less than 15 minutes remaining, to win by two. It was an emotional win and a strong end to the season that the Marauders are looking forward to build on next year.
Womens National League 15s B – Ladies
An incredible year for HKCC Ladies ended on the Weekend, with HKCC being crowned WNL1B Grand Championship Winners to go with the WNL1B League winners trophy.
HKCC have come on leaps on bound from the initial pre season training sessions at Valley in the Summer. Pre Season saw the ladies work hard on fitness and skills and a game plan for the year, with some new players with different levels of experience coming in, to bolster the numbers and add depth for the 2015/16 season.
The first half of the season saw the ladies compete in the WNL1 league and they stood toe to toe against a lot of tough opposition. The league table at Christmas didn't truly reflect on how far they had come and how well they had competed. Having taken games to the wire against most teams and with some luck going our way we could of finished in the top 4.
After the Christmas break the WNL1 league split into A and B divisions, with HKCC just being out done on points so played in the B league. A 5 team league was played in the final months with HKCC only letting in 10 points and scoring 161!! The ladies had a new confidence with injured players returning to the squad to give that extra push in the final half of the season and saw the ladies romp home to take the League!
This put the ladies on the front foot where it came to the Grand Championship having to play a comfortable semi final against Tai Po, lead to one last game in the final v Hong Kong Scottish. The Scottish team revitalised having the squad back together after having some unavailability in previous weeks. A tight game played out with HKCC leading 10-7 for the majority with both teams having chances to control the game. In the final ten minutes CC took the advantage to 17-7 and took the Grand Championship final!
The ladies shave worked extremely hard this year and have progressed forward in their all round play, patterns and especially as a tight knit unit and the two trophies is exactly what they deserved!
Well done ladies!
Updated 05:26 - 22 Mar 2016 by Siam Sattayaphan