Coach George Simpkins Took Rugby to China
New Zealander George Simpkin, Hong Kong’s former head coach and HKRU technical director, who played a major role in the overall development of rugby in China and Asia, has died aged 77, the South China Morning Post reports.
“During Simpkin’s 10 years with the HKRU, he changed the face of Hong Kong rugby,” Hong Kong Rugby Union chief executive Robbie McRobbie said. “He introduced rugby to China and played a key role in the development of the game of sevens – he was loved and respected throughout the community and we will always owe him a huge debt of gratitude for all he contributed.”
Simpkin – a Ranfurly Shield-winning coach with Waikato – joined the Hong Kong Rugby Union in 1988 as technical director after a stint with Fiji. His main task was to spread the game to the Hong Kong Chinese community, as well as introduce the sport into the mainland ahead of the handover in 1997.
He succeeded in both endeavours, helping to set up development teams such as the Hong Kong Dragons and a number of local Chinese-based clubs while embarking on several trips to the mainland to teach rugby to the People’s Liberation Army.
The greatest impact he had was with his players, who to this day are in awe of his status, his knowledge and his sheer ability to inspire and bring out the best.
Original article by Nazvi Careem, South China Morning Post, May 7, 2020.