It’s been a great year for us in Hangzhou and for Chinese Rugby in general. 2016 brought international acclaim to our City, with the likes of the G20 summit and the success of tech companies such as Alibaba. For us, Hangzhou Harlequins, we’ve had our own success stories. As always the team has gone through changes, be that players, management and locations. but the team always stays together and we continue doing what we love: Rugby. 2016 is an extra special year for the Harlequins, as it marks the 10 Year Anniversary of the team. Ten years since a group of guys starting throwing a ball around outside a factory. To mark this, we brought out a new special kit based off the London Harlequins European Cup design. As well as a great new kit, we hosted a friendly match in the summer time to finish our season. We invited Xiamen Typhoons and Fuzhou Tigers to face us in a fierce friendly. Due to the preparations for G20, we were gifted with bright a blue sky and a camera crew to witness Hangzhou’s finest showcase their skills. A fantastic day of rugby and a brilliant after party, as is Harlequin style. Check the video!
The start of the year saw us take part in the East Sino 15s league, which had an increase in teams participating with the year’s first new team, Shanghai Dolphins. With the tournament format of shorter games, we had the opportunity to showcase our talent against a few teams in one day. Unfortunately injuries had a big impact on the team and we missed out on qualifying in the top two spots, which went to Shanghai Rugby Football Club and Shanghai Dolphins who went on to play in the All-China Cup. Following this we had our own test match against the new formed team, Shanghai Dolphins, in April. The game was fun and showcased some lovely English rugby due to the constant rain making it a mud bath, it was also a great warm up to the biggest rugby tournament in China, the Xiamen 10s.
Back in May, on a scorching hot day in the lovely tropic city we faced off against 11 other teams from around China. Fighting our way to 2nd in the group stages and all the way to the Wok to suffer the utter heartbreak of defeat by long time rivals and friends, Nanjing Rockets RFC. The after party helped soften the blow.
After the long summer break, made longer by the G20 summit slowing the city down, we began the new season with new additions to the team. Balancing training sessions between the city centre and outskirts, such as Xiasha, helped increase numbers and spread more awareness of the team. This start of the season saw us join the East Sino 10s League once again, this time with ten teams in total, including the newly formed fellow Zhejiang team, the Yiwu Mustangs rugby club. We had the opportunity to host the initial tournament, with ten men’s teams and two womens teams, we had a jam-packed day of rugby. With our new players mixing well with the old regulars, we took revenge on defeats from earlier in the year with victories against the Dolphins and the Rockets. The second leg of the league we had a combined side with the Mustangs for the trip to Nanjing. Here the lads fought hard but inexperience together as a side meant we always had the disadvantage and come away with losses. The third and final leg of the tournament was hosted by the Dolphins in Shanghai, on perhaps the coldest day of 2016. With two strong wins over Changzhou Giants RFC and Wuhan Baiji Rugby, we ended up taking third place of the league which make us qualified to All China Sino 10s Grand Final which will be held in Shanghai June 2017!