Hong Kong Rugby Union chief executive Robbie McRobbie has been awarded a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in the New Year’s Honours List for his services to philanthropy and UK-Hong Kong relations. The list recognises Britons for their outstanding contributions to their fields. “People joke that it stands for ‘many buggers’ efforts’,” McRobbie, 47, said. “And I do feel it is a reflection on all the people I’ve been lucky enough to work with. I’m very proud to be awarded an MBE, but there are so many passionate people using sport as a tool for change and I hope this is a credit to them all.” Since 2003, when McRobbie first joined the HKRU from the police force, he has been developing programmes to utilise sport as a social tool. For example, he has worked with Operation Breakthrough, set up by current and former police officers, which helps at-risk youngsters find meaning through sport. “Prior to Operation Breakthrough, there wasn’t much understanding of how sport could be a tool for social change,” McRobbie said. “But now there’s a much wider acceptance and a lot of great charities in Hong Kong.” With the HKRU, McRobbie has set up a programme for deaf rugby players. A team competed in the first major international deaf rugby tournament in Australia in 2018 and many of the players have gone on to join mainstream clubs. “It’s not just about sport but developing the communication and life skills,” McRobbie said. Another example of McRobbie’s great work is the HKRU prison rugby programme. “These are groups that sport can have a really positive impact on,” he said. “You can really see the effect it has on rehabilitation and on stopping repeat offences.” Rugby in 240 Hong Kong schools just the start for sport’s new chief In terms of McRobbie’s work with UK-Hong Kong relations, he has helped a lot of UK-based charities set up in Hong Kong, including the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. McRobbie worked with other UK charities, including Spirit of Soccer, Active Communities Network and Peace Players International, who helped him set up programmes in Hong Kong. “They’ve helped build more links through sport with the UK and I’m very proud of that,” McRobbie said. The recipients of the New Year Honours are told about a month before the announcement so McRobbie has been sitting on the secret for some time. “Shocking, but a lovely surprise,” he said.