“We always knew the sevens players would be withdrawn at some point in preparation for the repechage. All of these reasons led to the disappointing but inescapable conclusion that we were not going to be able to play and men’s and women’s Premiership so we had to cancel it,” Robbie McRobbie said.
“Now that everybody’s confident that the Olympics is going to go ahead, we would obviously love to be there. It’s going to be a tough competition for both our teams, but who knows what will happen. The Sports Institute have a really good and safe environment and will continue the [sevens] programme. I think we’ll be going into that repechage in a better state and preparation than many of the other teams.”
McRobbie mentioned that while the concerns were all pandemic-based, it was absolutely “not a concern about catching Covid-19 from playing rugby”.
“It’s more that there are concerns about the practicalities of potentially going into 14 days of close-contact quarantine when you’ve got a young family, a pregnant wife, when work says if you find yourself in that situation you’re going to have to take holidays or unpaid leave. It was more the ramifications of that scenario – how it’s going to affect me and my family personally and professionally. That seemed to be the main driving factor behind the reluctance,” he said.
“If we felt there were health risks, we wouldn’t be starting any sport. But we’ll have 39 teams across the seniors playing. All the youth teams will be playing.”
“It’s always disappointing when we’re not able to get as many people out playing as we would like to, but at the same time we’re an amateur sports competition and fully respect the concerns and wishes of the individual players and member clubs,” he said, adding that the Union is in ongoing talks attempting to retain respective team and league sponsors.
“Going forward – and this will be to some extent driven by the ever-evolving Covid-19 situation – if the opportunity and interest is there, we are certainly open-minded to putting on Premiership-level friendlies. Whatever the community has a desire and interest to participate in or see.
“We certainly haven’t shut up shop until the end of the season. Nothing is off the table in getting more people back out in the next couple of months.
“100 per cent [Hong Kong rugby is still alive and kicking]. It goes back to the same message as before: this is not a blame game. Everybody would love to be out playing rugby but in the current environment, people have other considerations and must think about their families and careers.
“We completely understand that and look forward to their return next season. There will be a warm welcome from the clubs and the HKRU when they pull their boots back on at the start of next season.”