Last weekend, the inaugural All-Girls Contact Rugby Tour assembled a whopping 350-strong turnout from 8 of the biggest clubs in Hong Kong including the South Lantau Buffaloes, Hong Kong Football Club (HKFC), Flying Kukris, Discovery Bay Pirates, HKU Sandy Bay, Sai Kung Stingrays, USRC Tigers and Valley Fort, all of whom were raring to embark on the 1600-mile journey to Singapore.
Joined by a collection of clubs from Australia, Singapore and the Komodo Dragons- a team comprised of girls from the "Mama Sayang Orphanage" in Jakarta, this exciting venture shaped up to not only provide a unique opportunity for local minis and youth players to participate in an international tour, but also to make new friends, form closer bonds and foster a strong sense of community spirit within girls rugby in Hong Kong and Asia.
These objectives were certainly aided by the ability of rugby to function as a social glue, enabling players to transcend differences in backgrounds, cultures and language to unite under a common love for the game.
The camaraderie on show throughout the tour was complemented by some thrilling all-round performances on the Tanglin Rugby Club pitch on Saturday, which saw no shortage of quality tries, carries, offloads and hard-hitting tackles- all in sweltering conditions.
Baggage allowance must have been a concern on the return leg, as the HKFC U-10s and Sai Kung Stingrays U-12s took home second-place, while the Sai Kung Stingrays and a joint Sandy Bay-HKFC-Sai Kung Stingrays side combined to good effect to secure the U-14s and U-16 trophies respectively.
Joe Stanion, who manages the U-10 Flying Kukris and organised the tour, was delighted to have contributed to its overwhelming success and believes it sets the precedent for more tours of its kind.
"It's been fantastic, everybody has really enjoyed themselves- we've had singing in the airport and on the plane and there are still rugby balls flying around!"
"I think it was absolutely essential to get everyone on board with this and while there were a few gaps as it was the first time it's ever gone out, we filled them in."
"Thanks to all the parents who paid to come on this tour; I think there is a huge dedication to girls' rugby as everyone supports it and takes it very seriously, " said Stanion.
"Everyone wants to come and do it again next year, so I think I have a job for life organising tours for girls' rugby now!"