04 Jun 2020

Much loved KK Chiu has been a key figure in the Hong Kong Rugby Union family for many years, and he’ll be sorely missed by all as he takes his retirement this month.

KK joined the Union in July 1990, playing a vital role in the introduction of rugby to the local community here in Hong Kong, and those over the border in China.

KK’s association with Hong Kong rugby started with the founding of what were then known as the “Development Clubs”, that is, Gai Wu, Duke Of Edinburgh Award Scheme (De A- which later became DeA/Tigers and now, known as USRC Tigers), Causeway Bay, Typhoons, Police Panthers (PTU), Nomads (now morphed into Hong Kong Scottish) and Bulls (now absorbed into Hong Kong Football Club.

Union Director at that time and currently Union Vice President, Jamie Scott, recalls “George Simpkin, KK Chui and myself worked on establishing and nurturing these 7 new additions to the Hong Kong rugby family - covering coaching, recruitment & sponsorship - and KK was the cement that held everything together.”

“We had more than a few laughs!” says Jamie - “KK asked me to come over to Tai Hang Tung, Boundary Street one evening to present the Winners Trophy for the ‘Development Clubs Final’. At kick-off time, the 2 teams were there, I was there straight from the office, and then KK turned up with Trophy…. but no referee, just us and absolutely no spectators!

After a discussion with the captains, KK tells me “They don’t want to postpone and reschedule. They want to play the match and they want to know if you will referee the game for them!”

So, office clothes, shoes and all (I may have stripped to my singlet) with a whistle borrowed from the groundsman, I duly complied and refereed the match.

The match was played, the trophy was presented and much to my and KK’s amusement, the winning captain made an impromptu ‘Thank You’ speech declaring;

“Three cheers for Mr Leckie! Hip, hip hooray! Hip, hip hooray! Hip, hip hooray!”

[Stuart Leckie was the then current Union Chairman]

After a great stint, KK then emigrated to Canada in August 2001 with his family, only to return again in July 2007 to resume his work at the Union. KK has been passionately committed to the development of rugby in Hong Kong and China since he first arrived in Hong Kong, playing a valued role in introducing rugby to local schools, kick-starting our now world-famous mini rugby set up and actively encouraging participation in the local community.

He reminisces on the start of his career when he was one of just a few members of staff here at the union, to it now being the one of the biggest National Sporting Associations in Hong Kong, a growth which owes a lot to KK’s work.

When asked of his most memorable moments, KK has a number! One of his biggest challenges, a 1993 Hong Kong Invitational Sevens at the old Hong Kong Stadium in which he remembers tackling the renowned Hong Kong rain throughout the tournament, only to knock down and rebuild the stadium the very next day ready for the 1994 Hong Kong Sevens. 1995 was a key moment in KK’s career where he joined Peter Duncan, George Simpkin and Beth Coalter at a meeting with the China IOC official Lou Da Peng, a vital moment in the development of the China Rugby Union, resulting in the presentation of a membership certificate from IRB to CRFA in March 1997 here in Hong Kong at the HKFC 10s. More recently, KK played an active role in securing our Guinness World Record in November 2010 for the ‘World’s Largest Mini Rugby Tournament’ – not an easy task as you can imagine!

To gather some more personal anecdotes, we caught up with former General Manager of Rugby Participation, Brandon Huang who wished to express his personal thanks to KK. As the main liaison between HKRU and the Charitable Trust recipients, including Brandon himself, KK was looked up to as a father figure, constantly reinforcing the need to perform well both on and off the rugby pitch – Brandon fondly remembers their nervousness in visiting the Union office, ready for the ‘b*****king’ KK would give them over their school grades!

Jamie Scott recalls - “KK joined the Union just as the Charitable Trust was getting off the ground. It all started with a couple of former rugby players who were able to apply for tax relief subject to their having first made ‘a charitable donation’. So we set up an “Education Scholarship Fund” under the Charitable Trust, in record time and it all grew from there.

We used to joke about some of the students probably being better at rugby than studying. Not sure that we ended up with any rocket scientists- but it was in a good cause and more importantly, always fun.“

1995 was a particular highlight for Brandon as this was the year that KK took the Charitable Foundation kids on a month-long tour to Australia and New Zealand where they all ‘really got to know each other’!

Brandon admits himself it was a tough gig for KK with an ‘arrogant, naughty bunch’ requiring some serious discipline! Perhaps this formed the foundation of a lesson taught by KK to some to the Charitable Foundation kids a few months later – enticing them out to Tin Shui Wai to hand out leaflets at local residential estates (requiring some serious hours and legwork) under the premise of a financial reward, only to be ‘treated’ to dessert at a local restaurant and sent on their way.

At the time, as you can imagine they weren’t too pleased, however Brandon now looks back at this as another example of KK’s passion for introducing rugby to the local community, never letting an opportunity to promote the game pass by.

We thank KK for his remarkable work over the past thirty years and wish him best of luck in his retirement. Here’s to you KK!