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For proof that rugby is a hooligan’s game played by ladies of grace and style, flash forward a mere seven hours after Saturday’s face-off between Leighton Asia HKCC Ladies and Valley Black Ladies when the two sides met again, this time in the refined atmosphere of Lan Kwai Fong. Sworn enemies on the field danced up a storm off it, with much silky footwork on display.
In the game itself, Valley started brightly and with serious attacking intent, pinning HKCC Babes back in their own 22, and a try only averted thanks to brilliant last-ditch defending from Brenda Chan at full back. Fast line speed in defense and a couple of offside errors at the breakdown gave the Babes a chance to calm the pace and clear, and this visibly lifted confidence. Consequently, HKCC were soon two tries to the good, the account opened by number 13 Tinley Wong in a delightful break down the left, followed up almost instantly by a barnstorming 40-yard run from player-of-the-game flanker Emily Tuck. In perhaps a first for HK rugby, the two teams agreed not to kick for conversions, given the high risk of a ball being lost in the Happy Valley building works!
Valley stemmed the tide, but found it difficult to recycle their own ball, and had possession stifled by the HKCC pack, who dominated the scrum, finally bringing technique and teamwork together to capitalise on individual skills. Eva Rona in particular, at loose-head, dominated her opposite number, bringing huge pressure to bear on every Valley put-in. Credit here goes to the referee too, who took his time ensuring that both packs, relatively new and with some very inexperienced players, scrimmaged safely and effectively, and that the natural flow of the game was disrupted as little as possible. HKCC hooker, builder Cheryl Gourley, took advantage of one such ‘advantage’ play, diving over from close range towards the end of the first half.
With ten minutes gone in the second half, and the sun mercifully retreating, Valley hit back, good work from their two locks in particular being rewarded with a try in the left corner. But it wasn’t enough to break HKCC’s control of possession, and the game was settled when Serene Yee found a sublime line cutting back inside the park after unselfish and beautifully weighted passes along the whole back line to the right winger.
For HKCC Babes, this game marked the perfect prelude to the season, with parts of their game now visibly coming together, and the error count dramatically reduced on even a few weeks ago. Captain Anna Holmes said, “We’re confident in our plans, now we just have to execute them during the season as we did today. I’m very proud of the progress the whole team has made in stepping up from 10s to 15s this summer”. The first league game is 4th October versus Scottish; kick off 1800 at Kings Park.
Clouds of tear gas drifted across Hong Kong as the police with no obvious plan used violence and an apparent tactic of ‘lets hurt a few and hope they go home’ to try and quell the peaceful protests looking to get open elections for the Chief Executive in 2017.
Whether the protestors succeed in their aims, the biggest loser today is the police – their needless use of excessive force has drawn more people to the protest and achieved nothing. If they’d followed up the first tear gas volley to push out from their barriers and looked to re-open Connaught Road Central to traffic, perhaps the gas use ‘might’ have been justified.
But no, the ‘lets hurt a few and hope they go home’ tactic was pure police intimidation. Whoever gave that order should be charged with harming the injured protestors.
One thing the police must know is that Hongkongers are peaceful protestors, we’ve had hundreds of marches since the last use of tear gas in 2005, involving many groups and a total lack of violence. Even the very emotive 4 June march is trouble free.
The arrival of the military green clad Police Tactical Unit, wearing riot gear, gas masks and wielding and pointing shotguns at un-armed citizens surely marks a new low. What did the PTU achieve? Hurt a few more people, raise the tension several levels bring more people appalled at the police violence onto the streets.
The plan from on-high does seem to be… get the military looking PTU on the street, use violence and the threat of increased violence to intimidate and suppress. Maybe that works on the mainland and in the past without social media and live streaming video. But all its achieved today is to escalate the tensions and hurt innocent people. It is easy after all, if your wearing military grade riot gear and wielding batons to beat up on people throwing up from the effect of tear gas and pepper spray!
At the end of the day, you have to feel for many of the rank and file blue uniformed police obeying the clueless orders from above… talking to many of them, bc found they’d been on duty for as long as 31 hours without sleep and with no relief or rest in-sight.