On September 26 at 10.30am kick-off commenced for the first international rugby match to be held in Discovery Bay between the DB Pirates RFC Under-12 team and Hunters Hill RFC, a touring side from Sydney, Australia.
Hong Kong Rugby Football Union referee, Ralph Ybema, ensured all players’ boots were safe, they were wearing mouth guards and that they understood the laws for the match.
It was hot and humid on the day, therefore, the game was split into four quarters of 15 minutes duration. There was a five-minute break between quarters and a 15-minute break at half-time.
This proved essential so both sides could take on necessary fluids and catch their breath.
The entire match proved to be extremely physical as both teams tackled ferociously. With the larger opposition players the Pirates had to tackle low to ensure they went down.
Some of the smaller players put in some amazing tackles on Hunter’s bigger lads. A strong defence was to be the key to not acceding to too many tries and this was how the Pirates played to the bitter end.
By the end of half time Hunters Hill were up 4 – 0 so a few reinforcements were sought from the Pirates Under-13 squad to up the ante. This evened up the teams for the rest of the match.
It was very early into the third quarter that the Pirates scored to the delight of the spectators assembled at the venue.
With points on the board the Pirates player’s energy levels and confidence received a boost, which immediately showed with strong attacks against the opposition defences. This was rewarded with a further two tries.
The last quarter was a hard slog as the weather conditions were now taking their toll on all the players. However, the tempo remained high with the match ending seven tries to four in favour of Hunters Hill.
Once the players had recovered an awards ceremony ensued at the grounds. The captain of the Hunters Hill team was presented with an engraved plate to commemorate the match and all players received an inscribed medal along with DB Pirates souvenirs.
A casual lunch followed consisting of tasty Chef’s Choice sandwiches, Paisano’s pizza and homemade baked treats. There was a great atmosphere as players and parents from both teams interacted and relived moments of the game.
Playing an older team and winning the match was not the objective as it was intended to prepare the team for their last season of mini rugby in Hong Kong. It did just that. This will possibly be the hardest match of the season.
It proved a marvellous learning opportunity and life experience for the players and coaches. The feedback from Hunters Hill had nothing but praise and respect towards the Pirates.
In the true spirit of rugby: together at the end.
A colossal battle occurred on the field but after the game it was all smiles and handshakes as each team had the greatest respect for each other. The sportsmanship demonstrated throughout the day encapsulates what rugby is all about: ‘mateship’ Battle hardened; all the players left the ground full of confidence and some with a few extra bruises.
Congratulations to both teams for putting on a splendid rugby spectacle.
Keith Moran is Head Coach of DB Pirates Under-12 Squad
Photographs courtesy Neil Robbins