Men’s rugby sevens team grabs Olympic berth with win over HK
Nov. 29, 2019
Global Korean Post
By Kim Eun-young and Kim Hwaya
The men’s national rugby sevens team has secured a spot in next year’s Tokyo Summer Olympics, a first since the sport was introduced to Korea nearly a century ago in 1923.
Led by coach Seo Chun-oh, host Korea on Nov. 24 at Namdong Asiad Stadium in Incheon rallied to beat Hong Kong in sudden-death overtime, 12-7, in the final of the Asia Rugby Olympic qualifier to grab the lone ticket for a berth in Tokyo 2020.
Eight of the top nine Asian teams in the sport — Korea, China, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, the Philippines and Afghanistan — competed in the qualifiers, with Japan getting an automatic bid since it is hosting the Olympics.
Earlier, Korea on Nov. 23 blanked Afghanistan, 19-0, and beat Sri Lanka, 44-7, to claim first place in Group C. The next day, the Taegeuk Warriors beat Malaysia, 32-7, in the quarterfinals and China, 12-7, in the semifinals.
In the final against Hong Kong, Korea fell behind 7-0 after Jamie Hood scored at 4:40 in the first half. Korean captain Park Wan-young tied the score at 7-7 with just 1:54 minutes left in the game, and Korea pulled out the win thanks to Chang Yong-heung’s try at the 6:26 mark of extra time.
The win and Olympic berth are considered a miracle since Korea has just four rugby teams and the sport’s popularity in the country is low.
Coach Seo said, “I’m so deeply moved because Korean rugby players achieved their dream of punching their ticket to the Olympics.”
“We had problems with training since many of our players had minor to major injuries, but we came together thinking that this would be our last chance,” he said, adding, “Now we’ll run toward our dream of winning our first game in the Olympics.”