At the most recent Asia Rugby Annual Awards ceremony held in Dubai 1st of December 2021, a historical and exciting announcement has been witnessed to appoint Michael Leitch the captain of the Japan national team as the first ever Asia Rugby Players Ambassador.
During the announcement, attendees were thrilled as Michael joined the award ceremony, virtually from Tokyo, fully dressed in black-tie attire. Addressing the gathering, he spoke passionately about the potential of rugby in Asia.
Michael Leitch was also named as the chairperson of the newly formed ‘Asia Rugby Athletes Committee’, envisioned to assist in offering Asian rugby players a direct say in rugby governance matters in 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 the President of the UAE Rugby Federation.
The Asia Rugby ‘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: as the national team doctor, as head of training & education, and also as a match official.
For his exceptional work towards, and years of dedication to, developing match officials in Sri Lanka and across Asia, the Asia Rugby ‘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.
Stephen Grantham, one of the founders of rugby in Guam, was honored with the ‘Asia Rugby Distinguished Services Award’ for working quietly, diligently and dutifully for more than two decades to grow the game in Guam.
For reaching the quarter-finals at the Olympics, hence with their performance and actions on and off the pitch at the Olympics, inspiring the next generation of rugby players in their homeland and all of Asia: the ‘Asia Rugby Women’s Rugby Development Award’ was presented to the China Women’s 7s Team.
The ‘Asia Rugby Employee Of The Year 2020 and 2021 Award’ was presented to Khuram Haroon, Asia Rugby’s Media Consultant.
Asia Rugby President Qais Al Dhalai congratulated all the winners personally and commented, “I would personally like to thank and congratulate all the awards’ winners. In a year that has been challenging for everyone, and personally, I wish we had more awards to give out as I have seen member unions step up and I witnessed that my long-standing principles of equality, transparency and accountability are shining throughout the region”.