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#SAS23 Guest Spotlight: Hong Kong, China Rugby

Image: Hong Kong, China Rugby

Ahead of TheStadiumBusiness ASIA 2023, we caught up with Robbie McRobbie MBE, Chief Executive Officer of Hong Kong, China Rugby

McRobbie joined Hong Kong, China Rugby in 2003 as Community Rugby Manager, before assuming the role of CEO in May 2017. He previously spent 11 years in the Hong Kong Police Force.

McRobbie has a MA (Oxon) and completed a PGC in Sports & Recreation Management at HKU Space in 2001. He is a director of local charity Operation Breakthrough and in 2019 was awarded an MBE for services to philanthropy and UK-Hong Kong relations.

At #SAS23, McRobbie will be providing insights into the strategy for rugby development in Hong Kong and the future of the Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens tournament…

TheStadiumBusiness: What are the key current challenges and opportunities in the events marketplace?

Robbie McRobbie: “Having been starved of the opportunity to attend live events and even travel during the pandemic, we have now been seeing a surge in interest as the world opens up again.

“However, the recovery has inevitably not been equitable across all aspects of the sector, and we are struggling with a shortage of experienced staff given we saw an exodus of almost 7,000 from the sports industry during COVID.

“We are also still waiting for a full resumption of flights, both in terms of frequency and destinations, and hopefully a readjustment of airfares. But the most important point is that the appetite for live events is back and stronger than ever.”

TSB: What are the most interesting trends you are witnessing in the events sector?

RM: “I think we’re all trying to enhance the fan experience, both for those attending the event in person and also those watching remotely.

“How do we create that ‘wow’ factor, and how do we ensure that we are satisfying consumers across the demographic spectrum? We have to remember that as a child of the 1970s my definition of a good night out isn’t going to be quite the same as a Gen Zer!

“So, what’s interesting are the efforts to blend sport and music, traditional sport and esports, live experience with AI and VR… creativity is the name of the game!”

TSB: What’s on the roadmap for Hong Kong, China Rugby over the next six to 12 months?

RM: “We’ve got an exciting year ahead, on and off the pitch. We have strong medal hopes for both our men’s and women’s sevens teams at the Asian Games in September, and then an Olympic Qualifier to look forward to in November.

“And of course, on 5-7 April 2024 we host the last Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens in the stadium at So Kon Po before we head across the harbour to the new state-of-the-art Kai Tak Sports Park in 2025… we’ll make sure we say farewell in style. There have been a lot of great memories made there over the past 30 years.”

TSB: What are you most looking forward to about TheStadiumBusiness ASIA?

RM: “The venue is at the very heart of the experience for both fan and athlete/performer, so I’m looking forward to hearing about new initiatives to take that to the next level, and of course the networking is a great part of these events – catching up with old friends and making new contacts.”

Join Robbie and hundreds of sports and entertainment execs at The Wave in Kwun Tong, Hong Kong on 19-20 October as we explore the future of design, operations and technology for Asia’s sports and entertainment venues – only at TheStadiumBusiness ASIA 2023.