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Ryan reflects on the highs and lows of Hong Kong

21 March 2013

  • Ben Ryan reflects on the fragility of success and Hong Kong 7s' unique sense of occasion
  • England kick off their Hong Kong 7s campaign on Friday at 12:30pm, GMT
England Sevens head coach Ben Ryan

Photo: Getty Images

"Okay, so sometimes I have to double-check my thinking as we plan the time we spend in the various locations we go to. Was it this practice ground that had the indoor plunge pool next door or the one in Tokyo? Is this the place where the lift always gets stuck or is it the old hotel in Adelaide?

The HSBC Sevens World Series is a relentless cycle of airplanes, practices, meetings, video sessions, meals and matches. Places merge in the mind and suitcases are packed and unpacked with a level of organisation that would stagger our families back home.

Visas are issued, forms signed and liaison officers all over the world met as long-lost friends as we pick up from where we left off 12 months ago. It can disorientate and memories can fray around the edges as the season rumbles on. But it is part of the magic of what we all do – the places we are lucky enough to go and sometimes return to all form part of the journey each season takes.

Of course, some places have more success attached to them than others and that informs how you feel about your experiences there. One of the most inspiring spots on this planet may be the one place you want to be furthest from if the tournament doesn't go as you hope. Similarly there are some other towns and cities you would love to stay in a while longer to just hold on to those better memories. 

The unique sensation of Hong Kong

England supporter at Hong Kong Sevens

Photo: Getty Images

Hong Kong holds many of those in equal measure over the last few years. Some of those shards of time are almost frozen in a part of my mind that reminds me sport doesn't always deal you the hand you want when you want it. 

Winning the Hong Kong title, in the past four years in particular, has never been too far away. We've won 17 out of 18 pool games, reached the Cup competition every time and in the past four years, the team that has knocked us out has won the title.

I don't find that a surprise. It must give the opposition a huge surge of confidence taking out the side that gets so much support here and plays with a level of intensity that is hard to match. If anything, over the last few years, there have been teams we have brought here that have played well above their composition. The noise and support behind the side is a huge positive and it is a quite unique sensation the players with a red rose on their shirt have the honour to receive. As sporting occasions go, this is up there with bells on. 

So when we get to the start line on Friday night you can be sure there will be no one from England waiting to run out of the east tunnel on the famous So Kon Po pitch that isn't hugely grateful for being where they are.

Big games and great teams

So Kon Po Stadium in Hong Kong

Photo: Getty Images

Ask any of those past England Sevens players how it felt to play at Hong Kong and I'm sure you will be given some great stories all wrapped up in memories they won't ever let go of. It's a special place.

This England team has worked very hard for times like these. We know we have some big games in our Pool matches and all our opposition are great teams that pose considerable problems. We, as do all the sides, hope that we have the solutions.

It's a great challenge for all us to make the right decisions at the right times and pair it up with the energy and intent we will bring to the contest. Standing there on the touchline watching it all get played out over the next three days is a privilege. Are you short of something to do at the weekend? Save up your energy, get your vocal chords ready, put off whatever you had planned and watch the drama unfold on a TV near you. Come on England!"


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