10 May 2021

James Rowark, first row, centre

The Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) was saddened to hear of the passing of HKRU Hall of Fame coach and Honorary Life Member, Jim Rowark, yesterday.  Rowark, 73, died in the United Kingdom after a protracted battle against cancer.

A long-time Hong Kong coach at both fifteens and sevens level, Rowark arrived in the then territory in 1977 at the age of 30. He joined Hong Kong Football Club and played until 1983 before being elected as Chairman of the Rugby Section.  He began coaching Football Club in 1985 and in 1987 was appointed the Hong Kong coach, a post he initially held until 1992.

James Rowark, second row, first left

During this period, Rowark led Hong Kong to its most fecund period at the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, qualifying for the Cup in 1989 and winning the city’s only Plate championships in 1990 and 1992. He also led Hong Kong’s qualification for the inaugural Rugby World Cup Sevens in 1993 in Edinburgh, and later for the 2001 world championship in Mar del Plata. Hong Kong has been represented at ever Rugby World up Sevens since.

Rowark also coached for Kowloon RFC and was named an HKRU Coach of the Year. He returned to coach the national team again in 1997, winning the Bowl competitions at the Hong Kong Sevens in 1999 and 2001. Rowark was also extremely proud to see his son Niall go on to represent Hong Kong and Hong Kong football club with distinction.

James Rowark, first row, 4th left

He continued to put his expertise to work as Director of Coaching for the Union from 2001 to 2005 and was made an Honorary Life Member in 2006, and inducted as one of only 41 members of the HKRU Hall of Fame in 2015.

“The HKRU is in mourning today for one of our own. Jim was not only one of Hong Kong’s foremost coaches, he was a ubiquitous presence around local pitches for decades, where he shared his time and knowledge with countless players; his loss will be felt across the entire Hong Kong rugby community” said Mr Robbie McRobbie, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Rugby Union.

“We extend our sincere condolences to Hilary, Niall and the entire Rowark family, and will continue to hold them in our thoughts at this time.”