Law & More: The Boase Cohen & Collins Podcast

Episode 14 - Robbie McRobbie

May 10, 2022 Niall Episode 14
Law & More: The Boase Cohen & Collins Podcast
Episode 14 - Robbie McRobbie
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, our Senior Partner Colin Cohen welcomes Robbie McRobbie, CEO of the Hong Kong Rugby Union. Robbie reflects on his upbringing in Scotland, days at Oxford University and his entertaining first career as a Hong Kong police officer. He also talks passionately about the Rugby Union’s work in the community and the unique appeal of the Hong Kong Sevens. Stay tuned. 

Host: Colin Cohen
Director: Niall Donnelly
Producer and VO: Thomas Latter

Boase Cohen and Collins  


[00:00:34] Colin: Robbie, welcome to Law & More. It's a great privilege to have you here. What's been occupying you recently? 

[00:00:41] Robbie: Well, it's absolute pleasure to be here. I suppose really, we have been reacting to the government announcements about the possible reopening of sports facilities, and looking a little bit further ahead, the November Sevens. As we all know, we've now had two years without a Hong Kong Sevens. 

I'm sure we'll get onto to chat about that, that's caused us significant challenges. So we are looking with great anticipation at that possibility of the event in November. And all the planning that needs to hopefully getting that up and running. 

[00:01:16] Colin: Before we start talking about rugby, your position, the Sevens. Let's go a little bit back to your roots. 

As I understand, you are a very proud Scotsman, but you have a little bit of English blood in you. Like me, I'm a Sasunnach as well. Cause my mother was born in Scotland and my dad was in England and I know how exactly you feel. So looking at your background and I know you went to an excellent school, the academy in Edinburgh. 

[00:01:40] Robbie: Yes, so my parents played possibly the worst trick that they could on a child. They nipped across the borders to England. And I was born in the people's Republic of Yorkshire in Harrogate. So yes, technically, I was born in England, but as one of my teachers used to tell me just because you're born in a stable, doesn't make you a horse. 

We thankfully relocated back to God's own country, to Scotland, when I was four and actually from the age of four, right through, until I left the UK the family home was in a wee village called Gullane, or Gullane if you are a bit more posh. Which is 20 miles east Of Edinburgh. A real idyllic childhood. 

Gullane is probably best known for wonderful beaches but also golf courses. So it's the home of Muirfield, the open championship course. And actually in the immediate surrounds of the village, is 3000 people and there's about a dozen golf courses. So I grew up playing golf very badly spending a lot of time on the beach roaming around with friends. Wonderful, wonderful childhood. 

And my ageing father is still living in the family home in Gullane to this day. 

[00:02:47] Colin: You got interested in rugby, you played rugby at school. But I also know that you were interested in drama and acting. What got you into that? 

[00:02:55] Robbie: Well, I've always had this sort of dramatic bend. If you ask people, my peers at school, what I was best known for, it would probably be acting far more than sports, to be honest. I did play sport, but I didn't excel. I was [an] enthusiast, but drama, yeah, I was in all the school plays and won drama awards and all that. 

So yeah, for a long time I did feel that potentially I might tread the boards as a career. I think probably in my teenage years, drama and journalism with the two things that actually interested me most. But then, as we shall explore, I guess once I got to university really, the drama dropped off and other interests came to the fall. 

[00:03:35] Colin: Yeah, this is interesting. What made you choose the wrong university? For our listeners, I'm a Cambridge man, and there's always this little bit of banter between Oxford and Cambridge. And I'm, first of all, how you on earth went to that little place near a car factory and what made you choose St Edmund's College also known as Teddy's hall? 

[00:03:54] Robbie: Actually, there was a history of students from the Edinburgh academy going to Teddy Hall, Oxford. And I don't really know why that had come about. So when I was there, [Will Creer] and Andy Brown, they were one and two years ahead of me, respectively. So the choice of Oxford, actually myself and a very good friend from school. We took the opportunity to go and visit a few different universities including Cambridge, I have to say and this was sort of in advance of applications to university. And really, it was the excuse for a weekend on the lash, away from parents. And we had a great time in Oxford, so I really don't think it was much more than just very positive first impressions. 

The fact that as I say, there was a bit of a link from the school to Teddy Hall. And Teddy Hall itself, it's not a particularly well-known or wealthy Oxford college. But it's very compact, it's got a lovely atmosphere. Everybody is very friendly, everybody knows each other. 

The bar is very much at the heart of student life, which was quite attractive to me. And I certainly never, never regretted the choice. I had three wonderful years at Teddy Hall. 

[00:04:58] Colin: So you enjoyed your time. Is there anything, in particular, you gained from your Oxford education? 

[00:05:03] Robbie: So I guess for me, I'd always been interested in organizing events. So I was kind of the guy who organized the end of school dinner or the beach party or different bits and pieces. And so when I got to college. I stood for the position of social secretary of the junior common room. 

So I spent a year basically organizing the social events in college. So organizing the bops as we call it discos and garden parties, all different things. Thoroughly enjoyed that, and I think that was really, I guess, where I found my passion. I love organizing things and I love the immediacy of the reward if you like. When people go to something you organize and have a good time and turn around at the end and say - that was fantastic, thank you very much. I've always loved that kind of feeling that that gives you. For me, that was probably one of the big revealings of my time at Teddy Hall was, I guess I sensed in my future somewhere, although as we hear, it wasn't going to be in the immediate future. But further down the path. 

[00:06:06] Colin: And your rut played rugby? 

[00:06:08] Robbie: I did. Yeah. 

[00:06:09] Colin: Level? College? 

[00:06:10] Robbie: College rugby, I was part of the Teddy Hall team that was victorious in cuppers in my final year which was great. 

And, I played really all different sports at college. I played in the football team, the rugby team, the cricket team. I had to go at athletics rowing, of course. 

[00:06:26] Colin: Plenty of time to do some work, I see. 

[00:06:28] Robbie: I have to say yes, in terms of balance, it was probably the work side of things that suffered a little bit. Although I did scrape A Desmond 2:2 at the end of my time, which probably more than I deserved. I got a huge amount out of the three years of experience. But a few more lectures probably wouldn't have gone amiss. 

[00:06:44] Colin: Great, now coming to Hong Kong. You graduated from Oxford and then you decided to come out to Hong Kong and joined the, at that stage, the Royal Hong Kong Police Force. I read that you had a brother in Hong Kong, who was working for the police force. So what was the lure of Hong Kong for you? 

[00:07:02] Robbie: So, because as we all know Scottish students are more intelligent than English students. So we tend to finish school a year earlier. So I'd actually gone to university, age of 17. So I'd finished university age of 20. Obviously, I hadn't had a year out. 

I hadn't travelled very much. I wasn't very worldly-wise. So I was at a little bit of a loss as to what I was going to do. I'd studied modern history at university, which was lovely. But unless I was going to be a history teacher, I couldn't really work out what I was going to do with the degree. 

I felt that the opportunity to see a bit of a the world. Get a bit of discipline, I suppose, would not go amiss. I knew about the Royal Hong Kong Police, as you say, because my brother was a serving officer at the time. It was a three-year contract initially. So for me, I guess it was a little bit like national service. I thought I'll go and do three years, sort myself out. And at the end of that, I will have a much clearer picture of what I wanted to do. The first nasty shock, I have to say, was when I arrived at the police training school in Wong Chuk Hang in Aberdeen. It was to discover that my physical training instructor was my own brother. 

So not only did I have to, every time I saw him, I had to salute him and call him Sir. But he was very unpleasant individual. And made us do lots of dreadful things like carrying logs up Brick Hill, the back of Ocean Park. And as you can imagine, it didn't go down very well with my other squad mates who blamed me entirely for my brother's antics. 

So it made my nine months at the training school, fairly difficult. Although for my brother, he says it's one of the most enjoyable periods of his life. 

[00:08:38] Colin: So you then became a police officer. Where were you stationed? What did you do for the police force? 

[00:08:44] Robbie: Again, my brother takes blame for what happened next. So it got to the end of the nine months. And you had the opportunity of putting in a request for where you wanted to be posted. Now, there was no guarantee you would get your favoured destination, but you could certainly give it a go. 

My brother who, by that stage, he'd been in the police for about eight years or something by then. So he'd moved around a bit. And he assured me that the place to be was Fanling. He said it was a wonderful police station. There was a mixture of the British army, it was like a district headquarters. The mess was very lively, he said I'd love it. So I duly put in a request to go to what was then part of the frontier district. So it included border districts and Fanling. My course instructor was very surprised. He said nobody had ever requested to go to frontier district before. 

And normally it was like a punishment, but I insisted that this was the place for me. When I got up there, it was like a ghost town. Everybody had left. The army had recently departed, the district itself had been broken up. So Fanling had now become part of Tai Po district and border had become a separate district. 

The rooms on the corridor, outside the mess, had all these legendary names of police officers who I knew, but they're all empty. Cause they'd all gone. I was the only expatriate in the police station and I thought, what have I done? You can imagine, I'd already been cursing my brother under my breath for nine months and I thought he's done it again. 

I have to say, there were a couple of things that came out of it though, that were great. I was in charge of a patrol subunit. So I had 40 men and women under my supervision. All of whom were much more knowledgeable and experienced than I was. Most of them who couldn't really speak much English. 

But it was a really brilliant learning experience. I was lucky enough to get a police quarter, Bees River, opposite the jockey club which was just amazing, right on the golf course. It led to some interesting experiences, but that was a great place to live. 

And then I discovered the Better 'Ole Bar and Luen Wo Hui and the Better 'Ole was a legendary drinking gathering point for not, just expats, but for people from all over Sheung Sui and Fanling and the sort of the border area. And it was just wonderful. A fantastic old cop called Bob Wilkinson, uncle Bob. 

He was there every night. It was like, his kind of front room. You felt so welcomed. Between the Better 'Ole living on the golf course. And as I say, working with a really nice group of men and women in patrol subunit. Actually, though those first few years just flew by and I had a fantastic time. 

[00:11:10] Colin: Patrolling border, dealing with difficulties with illegal immigrants as well. How many people did you arrest in your police career? 

[00:11:16] Robbie: I thought you might've mention this. Yes. one. 

[00:11:18] Colin: Only one? That's the only person you ever arrested. 

[00:11:21] Robbie: The only person I ever arrested, and the individual was committing burglary in my own flat. So I'd come off the night shift and I'd got back to the quarter in Bee's river. 

And this was just around the handout, just around 97. So it was a block of six flats, but the other five had all become vacant because the police officers who had been living in them had actually departed, in most cases, to return back to the UK. So my flat was the only one that was actually occupied. Now somehow the network of illegal immigrants had found out about this. And indeed, there were maps circulating, showing the location of where I was living as a good place to drop in. Once you got across the border and you were sort of heading down to the city. Of course, I wasn't aware of that. 

First thing I knew was, I got back off a night shift. I went to bed, so it was about nine o'clock in the morning. I heard a noise and sat up and there in my bedroom, looking well as startled as I was, to be honest, was a bare-chested, illegal immigrant with a bag of swag, which was basically all my belongings. 

So we looked at each other, he turned around and took off. I leapt out of bed wearing nothing but my underpants chased him through the flat. He got as far as the door and I grabbed him at the door. And then we grappled and I sort of got him in a bit of a neck hold and I then dragged him across the floor to the telephone. 

And I phoned the report room at Fanling police station where I had literally one hour before, just come off duty. So the station sergeant answered the phone and I said hello major it's inspector McRobbie. You've just gone off duty. I said, I have, I have. he said, what can I do for you? 

I said I've arrested somebody. He said, are you sure, sir, that doesn't sound like you. I said, no, no, no, seriously. I have. He said, where exactly have you arrested of them? I said, in my flat, he said, good gracious. I said, do you think you could send a car or something because I'm currently holding him on the ground and I'm not sure how long we can continue in this particular position. 

He said, well, see what we can do. So, so sure enough, they sent the car around and he was duly arrested. Although he was the only person that I ever arrested. As I say, there was a progression of illegal immigrants who appeared to be going through both the empty units and indeed my fridge from time to time. 

There was one that the illegal immigrant story. It's funny to some extent, but also a bit tragic. I got back from work one day and clearly, I'd been burgled again. And so I contacted Fanling police station and gave them a list of stuff that had been stolen. 

And there was nothing particularly valuable, but it did include a police rugby shirt. So I gave this description and I said, don't worry too much about it. But, just if you can send a car round on patrol a bit more regularly, no problem. Anyway, a couple of days later at that time, I was working at the police tactical unit which is also in Fanling and I got a phone call during breakfast and it was from Fanling and they said, oh we've recovered your stolen property. So you think can pop down the station and identify it. I said, yeah, yeah. So. It's only 10 minutes down the road. So I popped down the road and the CID inspector got me his room. And he said the good news is we've recovered all your stolen property. I said that's great. He said, there's is some bad news. 

And I said, oh, well, what's that? And he said, well, what happened was, last night, there were two patrolling constables who saw a suspicious individual around the Fanling railway station. And they went across to challenge him and the suspect ran off and he jumped across the fence onto the Tolo highway and he ran off down the road, and unfortunately, he was hit by an articulated lorry travelling at high speed on the Tolo highway. He said unfortunately, he died of his injuries. And I said, oh, that's very, very sad. So he said, your belongings are here, but they're probably not in a state that you'd be very keen to take them. 

And of course, they were covered in blood, et cetera. I said, oh yeah, yeah. He said, of course, the other thing was, it was very, very traumatic for the lorry driver. Well, yeah, I suppose it would be, he said, yeah, not just the fact that you've knocked somebody down, but when he stopped the lorry and went south to look at the body, he was wearing the police rugby shirt. He thought he'd knocked down an off duty police officer and killed him. So I said, oh, well, that's tragic anyway, but a double shot for him. 

So those are my two illegal immigrant stories. And that was, I suppose, the sum of my efforts to keep the streets safe during my 11 years in the force. 

[00:15:33] Colin: And then of course you also got a position in the police officer's club in Causeway Bay. Tell us a little bit about that. 

[00:15:40] Robbie: Back in those days, the police was very self-sufficient, in as much as there were lots of jobs that nowadays are done by contractors that were actually done in house. So the police back in those days actually had, for example, a catering school in Taipo. 

So, all of the canteens and the police stations were manned by police constables who had also learned to cook. The police sports and recreation clubs were other examples of positions that were actually nothing to do with policing, but we're filled by cops. So I'd been working at the police tactical unit as an instructor. 

So I'd been there over the handover, which was, particularly as a student of history, was a fascinating time. But I'd come to the conclusion that probably policing was not my thing for the next 30 odd years. 

So a friend of mine, Mark Sharp, who had at that point was the assistant manager of the police officer's club. He was keen to move to a different post but had been basically told that he needed to find a replacement. So he spoke to me and said, would I be interested? And this is where the sort of the light bulb moment. 

And I thought back to the fun and enjoyment I'd had organizing events back at school and university. So I thought, yeah, I'll give this a go. I suppose I was there for about four or five years and I found I was far, far better at organizing kids' birthday parties and Elvis Presley fan club events than I was actually at policing. And I did a part-time qualification in sports and recreation management and really the longer I continued, the more I realized that this was my true calling and that somehow I wanted to find a role that would enable me to continue doing this type of stuff beyond the police. 

[00:17:23] Colin: And that took you into a post at the Hong Kong Rugby Union in 2003. You took up a position there. How did that come about? 

[00:17:30] Robbie: I'd always been a very enthusiastic rugby player. I'd been involved with police rugby club ever since I'd arrived, both as a player and as a committee member. I had reached the dizzying heights, but I didn't quite get a full international Hong Kong cap, but I captained the A team for Hong Kong fifteens. 

I played Sevens for the Hong Kong A team. So I'd been involved with the union. And then I got involved with volunteering for stuff like the judicial and disciplinary hearings and then helping them organize tournament's. So I got a chance to dip my toe in the water with the union. Really enjoyed it, liked the people there. So, in 2003, they did a restructuring and they created a new role of community rugby manager. 

And I applied for that. On the basis, I had for a number of years been helping them out anyway. I was a bit of a known quantity and was lucky enough to get the position. And that was the start of, well, what has up to now being a 19-year love affair with Hong Kong rugby in the rugby union. 

[00:18:27] Colin: Rugby is very dear to your heart, is very dear to many people's for Sevens. Tell us about your first experience of the Sevens and your views of the Sevens being the highlight of Hong Kong sporting event. You can't get around that. It's the number one sporting event in Hong Kong every year. And I think you are responsible for really taking the Sevens to that extra level, that extra dimension. 

[00:18:48] Robbie: My first experience was as a spectator. As a probationary inspector way back in 1993, that was the first Sevens that I attended. And I sat in the south stand with my mates. I don't think we got dressed up, but I do remember the stadium had just been redone. 

So it wasn't like concrete slabs, but they had, for those of you who were there, you probably remember, they had cushions that you could sit on that were also excellent substitutes for Frisbees. And the weekend was, for me, probably less memorable for the rugby as the banter, the humour, the drinking, the flying seat cushions. And that I guess was probably not a bad introduction to the Sevens. 

Then when I joined the Union, we had about 24, 25 full-time staff. So we obviously brought in a lot of volunteers and contractors to help with the Sevens, but all of the full-time staff also had important roles, secondary roles during the Sevens. Because of my background with the police, I ended up initially looking after the security. 

So I found myself back in the south stand, but this time, checking youngster's ages and dealing with all the various interesting things that happen. 

[00:19:53] Colin: Looking at their so-called ID cards. 

[00:19:55] Robbie: Exactly. So I did that for a while then. I ended up helping in other areas and I was very, very lucky because my role with the union and my role with the Sevens and that sort of grew gradually over those years. Eventually, within the union, I ended up looking after the commercial department. And then I had, a few years where I actually looked after the Sevens, which was a huge responsibility. 

I mean, you feel very much like somebody has passed you the family heirloom. And first and foremost, you don't want to cock it up. When your tenure finishes and you hand it on. The worst thing is if it's in a worse condition than it was when you received it. The other problem is that nobody really understands why it's successful. 

There's no kind of manual, which says, this is why the Sevens is the Mardi Gras of Hong Kong. So you're also very nervous about making too many changes because, again, you're just not sure what tweaks will work and what won't. I think some interesting things, when I was there I helped, with a guy called Dave Garcia. Who's still a very good friend who was mates with The Beach Boys. So we brought the beach boys up as the first live band that we had at Sevens and that sort of live music component has continued ever since and has been adopted by many other Sevens tournaments. 

And people will have different opinions as to whether this was a positive or not. I brought David Hasselhoff to the Sevens, the Hoff. 

[00:21:11] Colin: I remember that. 

[00:21:12] Robbie: Which, I probably couldn't tell all the stories, quite frankly in a public domain, but that was a weekend never to be forgotten. And also we did Kung Fu Rugby which was a sort of a rip off of Shaolin Soccer which was also quite an experience and probably not something that I would want to go through again trying to teach a group of Kung Fu martial arts stunt apprentices how to play rugby, was not the easiest thing in the world. So we tried lots of different things. Some of it worked and some of it, not quite so well. I had a huge amount of fun. And I was lucky enough, and I handed over to my colleague, Sam Pender, who is far, far better running the Sevens than I ever was and has done an amazing job. But I do like to think that I did hand it over in a fairly reasonable condition. I didn't break it. 

[00:21:56] Colin: you became the CEO of the union. Of course, The Sevens is the main funding because the Sevens was so popular and did so well. And because of the huge amount of money that was generated year after year after year, you could establish a very, very successful rugby union with a very strong, strong premier league. And then getting over juniors playing rugby. That must be very satisfying, I think, for you to get that organized, 

[00:22:21] Robbie: Oh, it was fantastic. I mean, yes, you're quite right, the Sevens brings in 95% of the union's annual revenue. So clearly not having a Sevens has been extremely difficult. But in the good years, when we were making a lot of money, what that enabled us to do both at the elite end of the game and the grassroots into the game was phenomenal. We don't have shareholders. Our members are the clubs. So all the money that we make goes back into the community. So we were able to over a 10 year period, invested over a hundred million Hong Kong dollars back into sports facilities. So we helped the likes KGV, South Island School, Renaissance College, St Stevens College, Hong Kong University with their sports facilities. We invested a lot in our own Kingspark sports grounds. So, that I think was very meaningful. We then in 2013, we set up our own charity, the Hong Kong Rugby Union Community Foundation. Which at the time was a real, and still is actually, a real leader in sport for development in Hong Kong. 

So using sport as a medium to tackle social issues. As you say, we have a wonderful, very, very vibrant, mini rugby community, 21 clubs. And we were able to provide support to them and youth. Tertiary rugby and the senior game. Before COVID we had over 80 senior men's and women's teams playing every Saturday during the season. And the men's and women's elite end of the game again, great success. The women played in the 2017 rugby world cup in Ireland which I was lucky enough to go and get to see them participate, which was just incredible. The men, the Sevens, They're the reigning Asian Games gold medalists, the number one in Asia at the moment. So yeah, we were very, very lucky. 

[00:23:56] Colin: Yeah, and also you're a great person for charity because you've been involved in assisting the prisons, doing a lot of charity. And I have to congratulate you on this, you're getting your MBE for your service to [charity] in both in the UK and Hong Kong. It's well done to get that gong. 

[00:24:12] Robbie: I still haven't got it yet. Due to COVID and then obviously the Royal family have had a few other things on their minds. I still haven't received it. In fact, the British consul general in Hong Kong has very kindly said that you can actually have it presented overseas. So at this point in time, I'm thinking I will probably get it in Hong Kong. I'm waiting my, not the nasty brother who was in the police, but I've got an elder brother. He's actually quite nice bloke. He's a pilot with Virgin. Normally is actually kind of flying in and out Hong Kong, although lately, even when he was flying in, he wasn't actually able to leave the hotel, obviously, because COVID. 

I'm waiting for the opportunity for that to relax a bit so that, if I could get my two brothers here to Hong Kong, round the Consul General's house, then I'll maybe get the MB done there. But yeah, it was a great honour. I have to say, and I know it's a cliche, but it was very much, I think, a collective of the efforts of people I've had the privilege of working with Danny in operation breakthrough which was kind of where it all started for me, which was volunteer or police officers again, using sport to help at-risk youngsters. And then within the rugby union, the community foundation. So, I've had a huge amount of fun and pleasure doing it, but at the same time, hopefully, we have made a positive impact on some youngsters lives. 

[00:25:29] Colin: Obviously, we experienced over the last years here in Hong Kong with COVID, huge challenges. I'm into sport. I'm involved in the cricket association and I'm involved in Hong Kong Football Club and the ability not to play sport, not to go out there week after and have your sport. I referee football badly, but I enjoy my sport. 

And right now we've had no sport for the last few months, but slowly, slowly, we're going through the pandemic. We're trying to see what's happening. And yet there's a glimmer. There's something up there. The financial secretary made this announcement that the Sevens are going to appear back in November. He's inviting 200 people or more people to come to Hong Kong. 

Will we open your views? Will I be allowed to be in the crowd? Will the people fly in from overseas? Will all the business people come in. Cause for Sevens is there to encourage, everyone runs their meetings around the Sevens. Law firms come in, business deals are done. It's the focal point. Do you see light at this end of this tunnel? 

[00:26:29] Robbie: We do. I mean, we were very encouraged by, I think the first time that the financial secretary mentioned it was in his interview with RTHK We were surprised, but we didn't kind of react to it. And then, he brought it up again during South China morning Post forum, and then a third time subsequent to that in another media interview, we had those dates booked in any way. 

So I mean, the intention was always that we were going to be having a Sevens in November. COVID conditions allowing. But to hear such a senior member of the government talking in a positive manner about Hong Kong being in a position to host international business leaders and an event like the Sevens and towards the back end of the year was really, really good. 

And just the lift up that we needed. We've always been pretty confident. We've got a great events team, we've got a great medical team. And we have sought advice from people all over the world. So, we're confident that we've got a plan that would work, but at the same time, now that most countries have opened up are not really willing to come in and do a period of quarantine in a hotel. 

So these are the types of challenges that we still need to work with the government to overcome. But broadly speaking, I think the combination of the three-phase relaxation that, the chief executive spoke about last week. Together with the financial secretary's comments. For the first time, the light at the end of the tunnel, we feel is less likely to be an oncoming train and hopefully more hopeful. 

[00:28:01] Colin: Well, I'm hopeful because the big sporting events are having all around the planet. In November you got the world cup, starting in Qatar. You're having stadiums are full up. Rugby is at its very best. And of course, in 2023, you got the rugby world cup, which is a massive, massive tournament in respect of matters. 

So fingers crossed that maybe some sense will prevail. Maybe we will live with COVID. I don't know, but I just hope some sense prevails in respect to matters. 

[00:28:30] Robbie: Yeah, there's clearly a lot of focus on we're trying to get our Hong Kong representative teams in a position where they can be playing in tournament is a very big year for them. The men will be defending their Asian game Sevens gold medal later in the year. 

They're also playing in the. Rugby world cup Sevens in Cape town. The women's Sevens team, have got a very strong, realistic chance of medaling at the Asian games. So at the moment, there's a big focus on how do we make sure that they're in a position to prepare properly for those competitions. 

[00:29:00] Colin: And of course, the Olympics, the people in the streets in Hong Kong, watching the swimming and great, great, great results for Hong Kong. 

I mean, we have very, very small, but to get those gold medals and the fencing and with table tennis and badminton, sport is so essential to people's mental status and to help people. And we can try and persuade the government and to open up and allow sport to take place. 

[00:29:23] Robbie: You're exactly right. I was going to say that, whilst understandably, there's a big focus on what are we doing at the elite end. We are very, very mindful, exactly as you say, that sport is so important across the community and, at the grassroots end, it's a shame that, to a large extent, the sports family has not been able to capitalize on the huge upswing in interest that the success in the Olympics brought about. 

But you know across the different national sports associations and all NGOs working in sport. We are all absolutely ready and waiting once those facilities are open up. we're all so keen to get boys and girls, men and women back out enjoying themselves, playing sport. And with all the positive stuff that goes along with that. We talk a lot about the life skills and the values that sport brings. 

And I think probably these last two years have brought that into sharp definition for all of us. When it's not there, we understand how much we miss it. 

[00:30:19] Colin: Great, and finally, I asked all my guests this question. You've been in Hong Kong for nearly 30 years. Your thoughts for the future. Are you going to stay? What are your intentions? 

[00:30:30] Robbie: I'm certainly going to stay I'm married to a local girl, for as long as she'll keep married to me, bless her. But now Hong Kong is my home. I've lived far more than half my life in Hong Kong. 

And Hong Kong has been incredibly good to me. I've had the opportunity to do things in Hong Kong I don't think I would have ever been able to do even in Scotland. So I'm very grateful to Hong Kong. It's given me a career. It's given me a family. It's given me incredible memories. So I'm here for the long haul. 

And again, I know it's a cliche, but, but Hong Kong and the Hong Kong people are resilient. And I think that will get us through. What Hong Kong looks like in 5 years, time, 10 years time. I'm not a hundred per cent sure. But I do have faith in that resilience that, we'll still be ticking along. 

[00:31:13] Colin: An honour, a pleasure. Thank you so much for joining us on Law. & More.