GLOBAL RAPID RUGBY AND THE FWD SOUTH CHINA TIGERS ARE BACK!
Rugby Union across the Asia region is set to gain from the unprecedented exposure generated by the 2019 RWC in Japan.
The 2019 Global Rapid Rugby Showcase successfully unveiled a new format for XV’s and now the first ever full season prepares to explode with six teams confirmed, including Hong Kong’s own FWD South China Tigers.
The GRR tournament seeks to bring together Asia and the Pacific Islands into a professional competition to tap the massive support that lies within the region. While Rugby fans in Asia will always have their favourite tier one teams, locally now they can lend their support to one of the six teams breaking new ground in Global Rapid Rugby.
Despite some uncertainty about the quality of these teams, the rationale behind the invites to participate has generated a very interesting field entrants, to the casual observer it’s very much territory based, with fans across the region given a side to call their own as the tournament develops.
Malaysia - Valke, if you ask any South African who has played representative Rugby in South Africa about the Valke, the response is almost the same...their shoulders drop, the head goes back and eyebrows go up. Where do you begin when it all ends with, being hurt in the process, so let’s move along to the next team.
China - Lions, now this must be GRR’s dream come true, Bay of Plenty are a New Zealand province and undeniable breeding ground for athletes of all disciplines and not just Rugby Union. Sir Gordon Tietjens halls from the BOP and many of his World Series winning selections were built on the backbone of the Bay of Plenty talent, the Lions will be ‘one to watch’.
Fiji & Samoa - Globally speaking, Pacific Island players have a huge impact on the game at the professional level and any league considered competitive will ultimately have players from the Pacific Islands. However, no opportunity to hold talent to the Islands has been to the detriment of their international status, Fiji showed signs of stabilisation in Japan last year, meanwhile the performance of Tonga and Samoa continue to be agonising. The Asia-Pacific connection is fundamental to long-term aims of GRR, and the largest city in Polynesia is - Auckland.
The Force - The South China Tigers were dealt with on the day in Aberdeen, size and power in the closing stagers of the game, hint to a group of players with superior strength and endurance. This lap they will be sharpened up and going full gas on each engagement, in a 10-week tournament there is no room for error in the opening 6-7 games.
Tiger Season Opens in April against Fijian Latui, Friday the 24th at the Hong Kong Stadium. Already it screams ‘theme’ night for the spectators, when Hong Kong rolls out the red carpet to Global Rapid Rugby for the opening game of the South China Tigers campaign.
From history making to the story of two old friends, Hong Kong and Fiji, no other nation has climbed the mountain more. Together they presented Sevens to the world, the world watched Fiji in Hong Kong, now the world plays Sevens. The opening RWC performance in Japan saw Fiji best Australia for an hour, the ability to take on the world is clear, the avenues for development were not - until now. It’s almost like a little piece history repeating. The match against the Fiji Latui is a celebration of Hong Kong and Fiji Rugby, together they’ve already created so much, Hong Kong Stadium will be Little-Suva for the night.
Next up, the Tigers take on Manuma Samoa, Friday 1st May at Hong Kong Stadium. The Darryl Suasua coached Manuma Samoa have substantial depth and it’s likely to have some All-Star talent, but does it have the discipline? It’s a young and talented player group, but relatively untested in this type of Rugby, although consideration must be given for the internal competition for selection, ten weeks of travel and effort will be a genuine test for them.