Many will remember Sam Pinder as the man who made two appearances for Scotland in 2006 and served Glasgow Warriors with great distinction.
However, the former scrum-half originally from New Zealand is now involved in rugby off the pitch as the Head of the world famous Hong Kong Sevens which begins on Friday.
“I had come to the end of a contract with the Warriors and one of my team mates Graeme Morrison forwarded me on an email from the HKRU looking for a club coaching officer, a new initiative the union was looking to implement,” Sam takes up the story.
“Like all professional players coming to the end of their careers, the thought of moving into professional coaching was appealing and I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to come out to Hong Kong to work with the union – the other recently retired pro-player joining the scheme was Joe Shaw from Newcastle.
“I spent the next three years working with the HKRU performance department in the coaching role, a fantastic programme lead by Leigh Jones and Dai Rees. Over the same time I was also involved in various events with the HKRU and worked behind the scenes on the Hong Kong Sevens.
“My interest in the commercial/event side of rugby started to be more of a passion than the coaching and I made the switch over to the commercial department to work as an operations manager for the Hong Kong Sevens in 2013.
“In terms of my current role, I oversee and manage the commercial, operational, marketing and brand development of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.
“I head up a very good team that works tirelessly to put on the event each year, which can be anything from selling sponsorship/hospitality, co-ordinating the travel, accommodation and transport logistics of 40 international teams, development of HKSEVENS rugby week events outside of the stadium, developing broadcast and social media reach or anything else that comes in between.”
Sounds busy, but the 38-year-old is loving life.
“We definitely have a ‘mad’ March and the majority of the team works 15/16 hour days leading up to the event,” he explained.
“No matter how much pre-planning we do and attempt to bring timelines forward we always seem to find March to be hectic. There is always a buzz around the office around this time as everyone plays their part in the delivery of the event from the groundsman at Kings Park to the CEO of the Union.
“Things are manic in the first few hours on the Friday when the event gets underway but soon all issues get sorted and it is business as usual.”
How would Sam describe the Hong Kong Sevens to someone who has never been?
“A three day rugby party that is a mixture of a World Cup, a Mardi Gras carnival, and a music festival – all in fancy dress,” he said.
“We expect some red-hot rugby on the pitch as there is much interest in whether or not South Africa can win their first Hong Kong Sevens.
“We have also added more entertainment with live bands playing over all three days so expect the stadium to be jumping from Friday noon when the first game kicks off.”
What are Sam’s main memories of his time with Glasgow Warriors?
He said: “I always reflect back on my time with the Warriors with many good memories, whilst during that period we certainly weren’t championship contenders we could on our day compete with any of the top clubs in Europe and had a couple of memorable underdog wins.
“I still have a big soft spot for Scotland, my wife and I both went to Scotland and were privileged to play out our sporting careers there. We got married in Scotland and our first child was born in Glasgow. We will always be grateful of our time in Scotland and look back with many good memories.”
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