HCKR Finish 8th At 2023 World Rugby U20 Trophy – Spain Claim Title
Hong Kong China Rugby (HKCR) lost their final match of the 2023 World Rugby U20 Trophy against the USA in Nairobi to end 8th, while Spain was crowned champions and promoted to the U20 Championship to be held in South Africa in 2024.
Feature Photo Credit: Charles Warren prepares the offload against the USA U20s
The HKCR U20 team entered the tournament as the youngest side and also had the unenviable record of never having won a match in the Trophy tournament. Ultimately, the side couldn’t break the loss record, but they should take heart from patches of their performances, including at least two matches which they could have won.
The 7/8th playoff against the USA U20s ended as a 47-22 loss and HKCR had fallen behind quickly to two converted tries before fighting back to close the gap to 14-5. However, the rest of the half was very frustrating – periods of dominance and several chances within the opposition’s 22m line – something this team will have learned from the tournament is the need to be clinical when scoring opportunities are there to be taken. Head Coach Asplin said after the match “Yeah, that’s a bit of a trend. We talked about completion and execution. It is frustrating. It is just those little key moments. It is something we’ll probably have to reflect on when we review the game.”
The USA added another try towards the end of the first half after USA fullback Corbyn Smith had an excellent elusive run before offloading to flanker Hayden McKay extended the USA’s advantage to 19-5 at the break.
The second half started in favour of the USA as prop Caden Crist scored from a line-out drive – the USA’s fourth try of the game and a 5th was added minutes later from the restart when Faison won a 40-metre footrace to push the USA out to a 33-5 lead.
In our opinion, there were many opportunities when the USA should have been down to 14 men after the referee had given team warnings but subsequent penalties against the USA never yielded a card.
Finally, the cards came in a flurry when the match was beyond the reach of HKCR, as the final 15 minutes saw three tries, two yellow cards and a red card.
A fifth USA try from Hayden McKay in the 65th minute was followed by a USA yellow card in the 67th (Henry Duke) and HKCR eventually capitalised with tries in the 74th minute (Fritz Mahn – the youngest player in the tournament) before a McKay completed a hat-trick for the USA for a 47-12 lead.
HKCR added more points in the loss as Charles Warren added a fantastic solo effort to make it 17-47. USA payer Duke received a red shortly after for a second yellow-card offence and Max Threlkeld finished a beautifully flowing play to add a final for Hong Kong China and a final score of 47-22.
“That finish and our last 15 minutes showed what we are capable of,” added coach Logan Asplin. “Our potential was always there but we couldn’t always finish our chances. We had to dig pretty deep today, that was every healthy player we had in our 23 today. If we had put the best part of our four games here together, we would have been right in the mixer but we had to be a bit more ruthless in our execution.
He added: “Our experience and game management and execution let us down at times and I think it shows that this is a really, really young team out there.”
On the future for this group of HKCR players Asplin said; “This tournament will give our guys some fire in the belly. We have a lot of potential in this group and the boys have seen they can compete at this level. Fourteen of our 23 will be back to compete in this competition next year, and not many teams can say that.”
“We did not necessarily have a goal to win the tournament, but we have brought together 28 talented and committed young men all heading in the same direction for Hong Kong China which is awesome.”
HKCR Captain Tyler McNutt added of the positives: “You know, it’s not always about the footy with these things. You’ve got, a big group of boys. If we look at the way that we’ve developed as a group on the pitch and off the pitch, I think we can be so happy. Full credit to the boys, we’ve grown so much, we’ve gotten so close and I think we’re all just so grateful to have this experience with each other.”
Spain Win U20 Trophy 2023
Spain won the World Rugby U20 Trophy 2023 final against Uruguay 39-32 at the Nyayo National Stadium and Spanish Coach Raul Perez said: “We remember those who have worked with the team and couldn’t be here today. The process was the key; this doesn’t finish with this group of players and hopefully, it is reflected with our other teams and for a competitive U20 that will play next year’s U20 Championship. We started on a road and this is proof that the one taken is the right one. Now we must enjoy this, and tomorrow we work towards the future.”
Final Results – U20 Trophy 2023
- Spain 39-32 Uruguay
- Kenya 10-64 Zimbabwe
- Scotland 83-10 Samoa
- USA 47-22 HKCR
Asian Rugby & Tournament News
- World Police & Fire Games 2023 – Rugby Sevens.
- Japan & HKCR Women’s Sevens Teams In Canada For Season Preparations.
- World Defence Rugby 2023.
- HSBC SVNS 2023-2024.