ANDREW Hall, the former Newport Gwent Dragons forward, is moving to Hong Kong where he will join up with ex-Dragons coaches Dai Rees and Leigh Jones.
Hall, who made 83 appearances at lock or blindside flanker for the Dragons over four years, spent last season with English Championship side Moseley but suffered from injury and then struggled to get back in.
Now the former Scotland international is embarking on something completely different and occupying a different role as well taking in coaching as well as playing.
“I’m going to be head coach at Hong Kong Football and Cricket Club, a similar kind of set-up to Newport Athletic Club I suppose, in a player-coaching role which will be the start of phasing my way out of playing professional rugby at my own pace,” he said.
“It’s always difficult setting a deadline to do that, but I’d always hoped to go overseas at some stage and Hong Kong came up which was a real opportunity.
“Rugby is becoming more of a global game as you can see with guys like Gareth Delve joining an Australian team.
“Leigh and Dai were part of the interviewing panel and Leigh (head of coaching development in Hong Kong) will be my line manager, but there was also an interview separate from them and I like to think I got the job on my own merits.”
Other ex-UK players based in Hong Kong occupying similar roles to the one Hall will take up are Sam Pinder, the Scottish scrum half and Joe Shaw, the ex-Newcastle centre.
Hall says there are around ten teams in the league in Hong Kong and has accepted a two-year contract to work there with an option at the end of that period.
He wants to put a disappointing season with Moseley behind him, though he has a fund of happy memories with the Dragons.
“Moseley ended up in a real dogfight to survive relegation, it wasn’t a great time for me, I had a couple of niggling injuries and then didn’t feature a lot. So it was disappointing and I did miss the full-time environment,” he said.
“It was great to see the Dragons do so well last season, they strung more together and were far more consistent with some good coaches and the likes of Tom Willis and the culture he brought through as well.
“Their policy of starting to drip feed youngsters in is paying off with Dan Lydiate capped and Jason Tovey close and automatic qualification for the Heineken Cup too. It’s all great testament to the players and the coaches.”