The Chiefs Development Squad recently returned from a successful tour of Hong Kong to initiate a new partnership between the Chiefs Super Rugby club and the Hong Kong Rugby Union.
The Chiefs Development side undertook four joint training sessions and played a match with the Hong Kong national squad over the eight day tour to assist their preparation for their upcoming test matches against South Korea and Japan, with a view to Hong Kong Rugby’s goal of qualifying for the RWC in 2019 in Japan.
The match was played at the Hong Kong Football Club ground in the middle of the Happy Valley racecourse, resulting in a close fought 28 – 14 win for the Chiefs Development Squad.
Played in steady rain, Hong Kong scored first with a converted try from a lineout maul before the Chiefs Development replied with two well constructed tries to visiting Kobelco Steelers loose forward Ryuta Yasui and young Waikato fullback/wing Shaun Stevenson, both converted by Waikato first five-eighth Bryn Gatland. Hong Kong scored a try from a ruck close to the line and converted just before the break making the half-time score 14-all.
The match remained closely contested through the second half until the Chiefs Development scored two converted tries in the last ten minutes. Bay of Plenty second five-eighth Dan Hollinshead made a strong line break and a 40m run to score and Bay of Plenty half back Te Aihe Toma scored from a close range quick tap, with Hollinshead converting both tries for the final score of 28-14.
The Chiefs Development squad together with the Hong Kong Rugby Union undertook popular community engagement coaching sessions with local junior players.
Former Chief and All Black Richard Kahui through his personal connection with the Chiefs also took part in the sessions joining the first part of tour and providing his experience and professional guidance to the young squad and assisting with the media promotional work.
The Chiefs Development touring squad contained selected available promising young players from across the Provincial Unions that are part of the Chiefs region, including players from Counties Manukau, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Taranaki.
Chiefs Player Identification & Development Manager and Development Team Head coach Dave Dillon commented on the tour benefits, saying “This was a great experience for our players for their rugby and their personal development. It was also a valuable opportunity for the players to impress for the future.“
Chiefs High Performance Manager, Chris Tindall said “The tour was a great success as a new initiative all round. We received great feedback from the Hong Kong squad coaches and players regarding their future match preparations and raising the Chiefs profile and connections in Hong Kong and Asia for the future.
“The junior players coaching community engagement sessions with the kids and parents was a real highlight of the tour, with our young Development players doing a great job in coaching and engaging with them.
“We enjoyed working alongside Hong Kong Rugby Union on the tour and had positive discussions on other potential rugby development activity together both here and in Hong Kong in addition to the Development Squad returning to Hong Kong next year under our long term partnership”.