Updates from Steve Tarrant - Director of Rugby
Well the season is now starting and I hope to send a regular weekly update of what is happening and when our fixtures are so that those wishing to come down and watch can do so. This coming Sunday (6/10) we have two matches:
1pm U16s v Aberdeen at the Police Club
3.45pm U19 v TSW Eagles at the Tin Siu Wai Sports Ground
We will be playing on alternate weekends and on the Sunday in between both the U16s and U19s have a Junior Step team, where the better players in the Division 2 teams will come together to form a combined team to play in Division 1. This initiative gives a chance for the Breakthrough boys who are better players to enhance their game, with added training and an opportunity to play against the better players, whilst at the same time ensuring the Breakthrough team can be competitive and offer rugby to all levels. As I have said before we are not just about the rugby. So if you watch any of these combined sides in action, please shout our lads on. We do have some playing at both U16 and U19 level.
The pre-season period has been a busy one for us and not without a few problems. Firstly our U19 team lost our best 4 players. Three have decided to join DEA and play rugby there. This was very disappointing given the Junior Step program and all the other benefits we offer as a club. The loss of the supervision and guidance of a social worker for one of the kids in particular is something I worry about. Kowloon have had their best player join DEA and Flying Kukris their best two players. I don’t think this does any good for local rugby at all and in fact fully expect to play some of the boys in DEAs 2ndXV who compete in U19 Division 2. We have had a long chat to the lads involved and the door is open for them to return, which I hope they will. The other boy has been told by his parents that he must drop rugby for this year as the school exams are so important. I think it is a pity that his parents won’t allow him to do both, but of course at the end of the day one must respect their decision. However despite the absence of these 4 I think we will still be competitive.
The other disappointment is that we just don’t have the numbers at U14 level to form a team this year. We have always struggled with this younger age-group, but the hoped for new influx wasn’t there this year. We are hoping to pick up a few in the coming months and maybe join again at Christmas. Thomas the headmaster at the boys home tells me this is a demographic issue with HK as the birth rates in HK 10 -13 years ago were particularly low. They have the same issues at the boys home and it is not due the kids being better behaved.
On the recruiting side our link up with Tuen Mun Boys Home is going well and we now have 5 boys training with us regularly. Also we have visited the Community Relations Section at Yuen Long Police Station and the School Liaison team are linking us up with the most problematic schools in Tin Siu Wai. In the coming weeks Ah Kuen and Ivan will visit the school discipline masters and talk with them about what we offer to see if they wish to recommend some boys from their schools to join us. Ivan tells me he has lots of experience speaking to discipline masters when he was at school and I am hopeful that this approach will see some additions to our numbers in the next few months.
On the representative front we got three boys elected to the HK Rugby Academy, unfortunately two of them are now with DEA, but Ken, one of the Filipino lads from the Ellis Kadoorie School in MK, is still with us. Our link up with this MK school, which causes MK police quite a few problems, continues to go well and we have a number of NEC (non-ethnic Chinese) kids playing for us these days.
Also I am pleased to tell you about a short pre-season tour we had for the U19s to China. About a month ago we played against the Zeng Cheng High School team in HK at 7s and Robbie charmed the Mayor. She then extended an invitation for us to visit their school, all expenses paid at the mid-Autumn festival. We took 20 boys and had a day’s training with their team on the Friday and played 7s together on the Saturday. We beat the school team in the main game, but when they played a few visiting young PLA players, were a bit strong for us. Zeng Cheng is about two hours over the border and is an area selected by the Chinese Government to develop 7s rugby. The school, which has 3,500 students was amazing. It was a great opportunity for the U19 lads to bond a bit before the season started and it really helped to integrate the two TM boys home lads who join us.
We were also lucky enough to be given some tickets to Ocean Parks early Halloween party and a group of about 20 boys recently had a fun night out at the park.
Lastly some more good news we have had another ex-rugby boy join the police. David started at the training school this week and it was nice that he sent me a message thanking Breakthrough for giving him the inspiration to apply and the confidence to succeed.