by TOM KENNEDY
Hong Kong has proved to be a successful sevens tour stop for Canadian rugby in more ways than one. Not only did the Canadian women win the championship and the men take home the Bowl, but the Canadian Rugby Foundation has bolstered support with $100,000 raised for an endowment fund. For all these reasons, CRF’s Matthuw Ronald-Jones celebrated the weekend as one of great success in the Canadian rugby sevens annals. “I would say it’s one of the best weekends,” Ronald-Jones said. “The men defended their bowl title and the women won the competition. The teams have done a great job of garnering support.”
The CRF held several events in Hong Kong over the course of the week. Activities included a training session coupled with a meet and greet for fans by the men’s team at the Canadian International School, reception with the Canadian Consul General, an improptu dinner with the women’s team and the sixth annual Great Canadian Sevens Luncheon and silent auction. Coupled with individual donations made in both Canada and Hong Kong, the luncheon made the CRF’s goal of $100,000 a reality, which will allow the foundation to set up an endowment fund to support Canada’s Olympic sevens development.
“That’s a phenomenal response,” Ronald-Jones said. “Half the money was from ex pats and a lot of it was from people in Canada. ($100,000) was our goal and it was a brand new target which surpassed our previous high of $75,000. It was a lot of work and we had some very generous people step up.” Ronald-Jones said the support from Hong Kong was not unexpected as there are 300,000 passport holding Canadians living there. In addition to the events held, the CRF presented Canadian men’s captain Phil Mack with the Pat Anderson Insurance Award of Excellence, a $2,500 scholarship toward his university studies at the University of Victoria. The award is an annual recognition of the sevens player that “shows passion on and off the pitch.”
Former Canadian international Doug Schick was also recognized for playing for Canada against Fiji and Wales and for being one of the first Canadians to test his hand at the professional level. Schick played at Narbonne in France and East Glamorgan. The Canadian Rugby Foundation’s main aim is to develop youth rugby in Canada. While the Hong Kong fundraising initiatives were to support Olympic development, the CRF maintains 24 different funds in support of Canadian rugby.