33 YEARS OF GAI WU RFC: LOCALLY ROOTED WITH HEAPS OF HONG KONG COMMUNITY SPIRIT

An interview with Andy Pong, 6th Chairman of Gai Wu RFC

25 Sep 2020


Tell us the story behind the Gai Wu RFC logo?

The first logo was designed in 1988 by our founding member John Greene and features “fat man” aka co-founding member Eddie Tam wearing a Hakka field hat and smoking a long pipe. Hakka clans are indegenous to Hong Kong and so inspired the Gai Wu "local Asian" concept into their Club logo's design.


 

Can you give us a brief history of Gai Wu RFC?

 

In 1987, with a number of rugby enthusiast from Kowloon RFC, came together to provide a home for local Eurasian and local Chinese players returned to Hong Kong from education overseas, Gai Wu’s "All Asian" rugby team made their debut, assembled to take on the bastion of British Colonial expats in their prized Rugby 7's tournament. They were received with great "amusement" by the skeptical, and with great support by others. In this game of Rugby, size does matter. Taking on the name "GAI WU" was significant for the “All Asians” in that it was a Mah-Jong term, meaning to win, though with a lower hand of cards, thus upsetting potentially big winners by preempting their next move; making it possible to win from a less advantaged position.

 

In the past, rugby was more of an amateur sport of working-class men. Nowadays we see a huge growth in female players across the world. Gai Wu started HK's first local women rugby team and since we have witnessed our female members achieve much success both on and off the field.

 

Fun Fact: Gai Wu was formed for the Blarney Stone Sevens in October 1987. Within a week after competition, HKRFU had received 70+ phone calls from local players in Hong Kong asking how they could join Gai Wu.

 


                                                                                                                                                                                                       What differentiates Gai Wu RFC from other rugby clubs in Hong Kong?

 

Gai Wu RFC’s founding goal was to promote and develop rugby amongst local communities. As one of our founding members, John Greene mentioned: “Gai Wu is not just about winning, it’s also about playing!” Our club culture is to focus on teamwork and diversity. We encourage members to actively give back to the community by participating in volunteering services. We also fully support our members from LGBT and minority communities. Many of them have achieved great success with Gai Wu in the past few years.

 

Currently we deployed youth and mini coaches in over 15 local schools and assisted other mini rugby clubs through provision of experienced players and World Rugby qualified coaches to run their coaching and development programs.

 

Our club management is volunteer-based. All our resources go to the welfare and development of our club members and children from local schools.

 

1992-1993 Gai Wu RFC Club Photos


2018-19 Season Opener


Every year before the season starts, Gai Wu host a season opener across 3 big divisions - Men, Women & Japanese, to wish the club a great season with no injuries. In the coming season, we are adding a 4th division -  the Youth section to join this meaningful annual event.

 

2019-20 Gai Wu Blossoms Team (Our Japanese Division)


 Fun Fact: Gai Wu is strongly influenced by Japanese rugby as we have included many Japanese players since the early 90s. Many of them have settled in Hong Kong and their children are now also part of the Gai Wu family!

 

2019-20 Gai Wu Flame (Men Development team)


What are Gai Wu RFC’s greatest achievements?

 

1987: Publicly announcing and proving by example (Blarney Stone 7's) that HK's Chinese and Asian communities are capable of and aspire to be recognised and accepted into the Hong Kong rugby scene and subsequently in 1988  becoming the first all Asian rugby club in HK to be accepted into the membership of the HKRFU.

 

Ladies


In 1989 – Just one year after formation, our Women's touch team won the first ever HK Summer Touch Tournament.

 


 

(Photo Credit: Tien Ngu)


2012-13 & 2013-14: Women’s Premiership 15s League Champions & Grand Championship Winners

2017-18: Women’s Premiership Gai Wu Falcons League Champions & Grand Championship Winners

 

(Photo Credit: Takumi Photography)


In 2009, Gai Wu Ladies formed their own 15s team. In the following years, the Women’s side expanded rapidly and became the biggest side in Hong Kong with over 100 active female players across different levels. In 2018-19 Fawkes and Hawks won both the Women National League 1 and National League 2 Grand Championships.

 

2015-16 Gai Wu Men’s won the Grand Champion Final

Gai Wu Men’s made their 3rd consecutive Grand Championship finals and finally claimed the title in the 2015-16 season. The Rebels had been the underdog for the season and earned the trophy with their hearts and will. To show winning is not about who’s bigger, but who’s got the bigger heart.

  

Gai Wu and Hong Kong Women’s National Team

 

The coaching team and the club have committed themselves to the development of women’s rugby at the highest level. The girls have achieved much success in both domestic competitions and youth development. Over the years we have developed over 20 players who have progressed to the top standard, and played for Hong Kong National teams.

Over a dozen players from Gai Wu have also been selected to train at the HKSI as Elite Athletes.

 


2017 Women World Cup Ireland (HK first Appearance) - 11 Gai Wu players were selected in the touring squad

 

Can you give us a brief introduction to Gai Wu’s Mini & Youth section?

Gai Wu have very successful youth programs, experienced youth coaches and a diversity of players. We started our very own U19 girls team in 2015 and continue to support a number of local schools and mini clubs by providing experienced and World Rugby qualified youth coaches.

 


Our club’s members have been hosting mini rugby courses every summer for the past 22 years. In recent years we have over 100 Japanese and local children joining the fun and laughter every year!

 

 Can you introduce to us some key personnel of Gai Wu over the decades?

 

John Greene

John is one of the founding members of Gai Wu. The picture below includes John and Michael Dinga, another Gai Wu founding member conducting an interview. John is still a member of Gai Wu and often shares his memories and history of the club with our current members.

 


Candy Yiu

 

Candy Yiu is another founding member of Gai Wu Women’s rugby and a cornerstone of our club’s current mini and youth programs. Under her guidance and coaching, numerous local girls have enjoyed playing rugby and some even went on to represent Hong Kong in 7s and 15s. Candy is still an active youth coach in a few Gai Wu school programs. From time to time she even turns up to our summer touch or tag rugby tournaments with her husband Kenneth Lo to show us their skills! Candy is also an Honorary Member of HKRU.

 

 



After 33 years, we are still following our club’s founding goal by bringing rugby as a sport and its values and culture to local NGOs and schools.  We are still actively working with NGOs partners and schools every year to bring the game to every age group in Hong Kong!

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