Hong Kong's Ringo Lung on the unstoppable rise of Rugby League

April 26, 2019

 Photo courtesy of Ringo Lung


Without question, 2018 has been something of an annus mirabilis for both for Hong Kong Rugby League (HKRL) and Hong Kong captain Ringo Lung. 


Boasting achievements that include the first-ever Women's Battle of Origin and National representatives Hong Kong Thunder travelling to Sydney for the Emerging Nations World Cup, its growth in the city has been inexorable. 


Nearly a year on from their historic first international test match against the Japan Samurais,  Rugby League's remarkable journey evokes a sense of pride and joy for Lung. 


"We rely on a core group of individuals who are fantastic but this comes with challenges just as any other amateur organisation – mainly time and money," remarked Lung.


"Having said that it’s been amazing what we’ve achieved with the resources we have had in the past 5 years since HKRL begun."


 Photo courtesy of Ringo Lung


When not in the thick of the action, the 27-year-old is part of an organisational team that has overseen the formation of multiple domestic leagues since 2015, which take place in the Rugby Union off-season. 


Such leagues include the Hong Kong Rugby League 9s - a competition that has attracted participation from the UK, Papua New Guinea and Tonga's Development Squad. 


Contrary to the perceived Union-League rivalry, the scrumhalf and many of his teammates have an insatiable appetite for rugby and can be found representing the likes of Valley across the regular Hong Kong Rugby Union divisions as well. 


"I still play Rugby Union and most of the league players still play Union. At the same time I know a lot of Union guys who are big fans of League. I’m a big fan of both and I think there is a place for both sports." said Lung. 



"Having said that, personally I like playing League better – there is more opportunity for attacking plays and big hits. Plus, the older I get the less keen I am on rucks. Just don’t tell my coach."


Not that Lung is one to shy away from responsibility; the scrumhalf was named Hong Kong's first-ever Rugby League Captain for their international test against Japan and the Emerging Nations World Cup in Sydney - an experience he describes as both "a tremendous honour and a huge responsibility". 


"It was a very surreal moment to be given the role and still sometimes I have to pinch myself as it is something you dream about as a kid," added Lung. 



"Ultimately I’m most proud when the team wins or performs well – especially when we got our first-ever victory in Tokyo against Japan last year and anything I can do to help us get there I’m happy to, whether that’s as a Captain or not."


Following a roller-coaster year that has seen Hong Kong Thunder take part in 6 international games in the space of 12 months, Lung believes that this year will see the HKRL turn inwards and dedicate resources towards building up the domestic side of things.


This means plenty of opportunities to don Hong Kong's colours, with the League aiming to recruit new talent to replace several departing players - the latest phase in what he believes will be an upward trajectory for HKRL. 


 Photo courtesy of Ringo Lung


"We want to be in a position where we have regular rugby league available to play for all in Hong Kong – for men, women and at a youth level – as well as competing regularly on the international stage," he explained. 


"It’s ambitious but we’ve managed to grow very quickly over a short space of time, if we can consolidate the growth we’ve had and find the right investment then the product is fantastic and very exciting."



The 2019 Hong Kong Rugby League 9s and HKTag are set to take place on 4th May (Saturday) at King's Park. For more details, visit www.hongkongrugbyleague.com. 



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