Hong Kong Rugby Football Union
The HKRFU is the governing body for rugby union in Hong Kong. Founded in 1952 and an affiliate of World Rugby (formerly the International Rugby Board) since 1988, the union organises the world-renowned Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, as well as its own domestic leagues across all age groups, genders and standards of play.
HKRFU names its first 10 icons for new rugby Hall of Fame
The Hong Kong Rugby Football Union on Friday night inducted 10 people into its new Hall of Fame, recognising a mix of union presidents, chairmen and other honorary officers, influential players and volunteers who have each left an indelible mark on Hong Kong rugby.
The inductees in the inaugural class were RA De Rome, Hugh Moss Gerald “Gerry” Forsgate, Arthur Dennison Cooley “Tokkie” Smith, Larry Abel, Ruth Mitchell, Ashley Billington, David Lewis, Jacky Ng Shu-wai, Chan Fuk-ping and Rambo Leung Yung-kit.
“The Hong Kong Rugby Football Union is delighted to announce the creation of our Hall of Fame,” chief executive Vern Reid said. “The purpose is to honour and recognise athletes, administrators and others who have made a vital contribution over the 60 years of our existence.
“The recipients of the inaugural award are broadly representative of the entire rugby community and they have each demonstrated the highest calibre of competition, sportsmanship and support for the game. This inaugural class has set the bar very high for future nominees,” Reid said.
De Rome was a driving force behind the establishment of the HKRFU and served a six-year term as chairman from 1952 to 1958.
Forsgate was president for 23 years from 1977-2000 and was also captain of the first ever “All-Hong Kong” team on their 1952 tour to Japan – marking the first sporting interaction between the United Kingdom and Japan since the second world war.
Another pioneer recognised was “Tokkie” Smith, widely regarded as the architect of the Hong Kong Sevens, hashing the concept out with former tobacco company executive Ian Gow.
Smith, who was chairman from 1973 to 1978, was quoted in the South China Morning Post in 1976 describing the first Sevens the “most colourful day of international sport I have ever seen – one that put Hong Kong on the sporting map”.
Abel was one of the earliest pioneers of mini and youth rugby and a driving force behind the establishment of the Hong Kong Mini Rugby Football Union and the New Year’s Day tournament, which celebrated its 46th year in 2014.
The inaugural class also recognised a number of influential players from the Chinese community. Leung was one of the first players introduced to the game through the HKRFU development programme established in the 1990s and he became the first local Chinese player to represent Hong Kong at international level.
Chan was the first local Chinese player to represent Hong Kong at the Sevens when, in 1997, he competed in the Rugby World Cup Sevens. Like Leung, Chan quickly justified his spot in the Hong Kong sides of the day, becoming a team mainstay in the late 1990s.
Another local Chinese member of the inaugural Hall of Fame class – Jacky Ng – may be less familiar, but he was a true trailblazer, becoming the first Chinese player to play premiership level rugby in Hong Kong, a mark he set for Police in the 1990-91 season.
Two players from the 1980s were also recognised. Lewis remains Hong Kong’s most capped international player with 55 appearances, while Billington holds the world record for most points (50) in a match, scoring 10 tries against Singapore in that world famous RWC qualifier in 1994.
Representing women’s rugby, director of development Ruth Mitchell was also inducted. Mitchell has long been one of the driving forces in the growth of the women’s game, serving in a variety of roles, including representing Hong Kong at both sevens and fifteens, serving as the Hong Kong team manager and as the tournament director of the Hong Kong Women’s Rugby Sevens.
In 2011, she received both the International Rugby Board’s Women’s Personality of the Year Award and the Asian Rugby Football Union’s Women’s Personality of the Year Award.