After flying six thousand miles to get some game time, former Pocklington School and Pocklington RUFC rugby player and England junior international, Lewis Wilson (14-16), managed just fifteen minutes of action for his new Hong Kong club before the region went into lockdown and suspended all sport.
While his former Pocklington teammates sat at home waiting for rugby in England to restart, Lewis signed a five-month contract with Sandy Bay RFC to play in the Hong Kong Premiership. He flew to the Far East at the beginning of November then immediately had to go into two weeks quarantine before he was allowed to join up with his new teammates.
It had been a difficult couple of years both professionally and personally for Lewis, 22, from Newton-upon-Derwent. He came through Pocklington's mini and junior section to play for Yorkshire and the North of England while at Woldgate School, then moved to Pocklington School for the Sixth Form where he progressed to full England Under 18 and Under 19 honours. After leaving school he was given a long-term deal with Championship club Yorkshire Carnegie, where he was voted Player of the Year in 2019, but that was torn up when the Leeds outfit went into administration. He played for Rotherham Titans last term, but the South Yorkshire club decided to not wait for a resumption and shut up shop for the 2019/20 season.
The powerful back row forward, who comes from a family steeped in Pocklington rugby tradition (Lewis is the grandson of the late AGI Wood, 39-49), had interest from clubs in England, Canada and Spain before deciding to take up the Hong Kong offer. He was desperate to get back into action, and before his initial training session with Sandy Bay, the 2019 Premiership champions based on the south side of Hong Kong, a stone's throw from the South China Sea, he said: "226 days and counting from my last time playing or training. Excited to be getting back into it with Sandy Bay in the coming weeks."
Just a week later and his wish became a reality as he came off the bench to play the last 15 minutes of Sandy Bay's away fixture at Kowloon; making an immediate impression with a couple of key turnovers as Sandy Bay won 23-12 to move into second place in the Premiership table.
But inside a week Hong Kong was plunged back into lockdown. Hong Kong Premiership fixtures were suspended on December 2 until further notice, leaving Lewis with another wait to finally get in a full game of rugby. He is keeping his fingers crossed that rugby will resume in Hong Kong in the near future, but his New Year's Eve message back home was a whistful: "Taken part in only 9 games of rugby through the 12 months of 2020. 15 minutes' worth in the last 10 months."
(Report by (Phil Gilbank 67-74), photo: Pocklington RUFC)