Dubai, United Arab Emirates, January 6, 2022: Asia Rugby has appointed former Japan captain Michael Leitch as the first Asia Rugby Players Ambassador.
The appointment, described as “historical and exciting” by the sport’s continental governing body, was announced at the recent Asia Rugby Annual Awards ceremony held in Dubai.
Leitch joined the awards ceremony virtually from Tokyo and spoke passionately about the potential of rugby in Asia.
Leitch was also named chairperson of the newly formed Asia Rugby Athletes Committee, which will give players a say in how the sport is governed throughout the continent.
Asia Rugby’s Special Award, for outstanding support to the regional association, was presented to His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Rugby Federation.
The Award for Character was presented to Dr Ajmal Wardak, who, as a volunteer for many years at the Afghanistan Rugby Federation, has been serving in three roles: national team doctor, head of training and education, and match official.
The Carlson Lin Match Officiating Award was presented to Dilroy Fernando from Sri Lanka. Dilroy is a former international referee and currently a World Rugby trainer of match officials.
China’s women’s sevens team, who reached the Olympic Games quarter-finals at Tokyo 2020, received the Women’s Rugby Development Award.
Asia Rugby President Qais Al Dhalai said: “In a year that has been challenging for everyone, I wish we had more awards to give out as I have seen member unions step up. I witnessed that my long-standing principles of equality, transparency and accountability are shining throughout the region.”