The Invincible Ro Hindson ‘69

Chris Spicer

Brentwood Legend and Canadian Rugby Hall of Famer, Robert (Ro) Hindson, Class of 1969, is one of the finest rugby players to play for the School and for Canada.

He won 31 rugby test caps playing for Canada, making his debut against Wales in 1973 and played his last game in 1990 against Argentina. He was also a member of the Canadian squad at the 1987 inaugural Rugby World Cup. Ro was talented in both the fifteens and the sevens game. Notably, he was named to the South Pacific Barbarians team that played the South Africa Barbarians in 1987, as well as to a select world team who played Ireland as part of that country’s centenary celebrations in 1973. This Brentwood legend has been inducted into the BC Rugby Union Hall of Fame, the BC Sports Hall of Fame and most recently, the Canadian Rugby Hall of Fame. 

Ro’s relationship with the School continued as he and wife Polly’s three children, Ben, Emily and Will all graduated from Brentwood. Recently Ro attended a Brentwood luncheon to honor The Invincibles, the Brentwood rugby team of 1967 that was the first Vancouver Island team to win the BC High School Rugby Championship. This was an opportunity to catch up with Ro and speak with him about his inclusion in 2016 with the first-class of inductees into the Canadian Rugby Hall of Fame. Brentwood Director of Advancement and friend of Ro’s, Chris Spicer, had an opportunity to ask Ro a few questions.

You had a very illustrious rugby career playing for Canada. Can you comment on a few of the greatest influences on your rugby career?

That is a long list but at the top of the list is my family. Their support enabled me to come and go at the call of club, province and country. This was an immense gift as it placed extra burden on them to continue running the home farm. Coming to Brentwood presented a huge opportunity for me to hone my rugby skills under the tutelage of Nick Prowse, Ivor Ford and Alun Rees. I also fondly remember the creative unopposed practices under UBC’s Don Spence which allowed us to experience the free flow zen of rugby.

What countries has playing rugby taken you to?

England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France, South Africa, Fiji, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Western Samoa, Argentina - I may have missed a few!

What did training for rugby look like for you when you were in Naramata?

Interesting question. Remember that when I played for the national team, there were very few games and certainly no system of centralized training and staff to lead this. We were generally responsible for our own fitness training. I recall working on our farm in Naramata and looking at ways to integrate the farm chores into my rugby training. The farm has some steep pitches and ravines so when I was setting out the long and fairly heavy irrigation pipes, I would carry as many sections as I could and then run back to get the next ones. Repeat. And repeat again a few hours later. I also recall working with fellow Old Brentonian, Mike Ohman, building fences on a wildlife survey he was doing in the snow covered hills of the Ashnola River above Hedley, BC. I did my version of wind sprints between tasks, through the snow. Then, 2 days later I was playing in the Hong Kong Sevens - now that was surreal!

What would you say to a starry-eyed young man or woman who has ambition to follow in your footsteps?

I was very fortunate to play rugby at a time that pre-dates the intense, serious, structured game of today that I feel can squash the creativity of the game. I would tell this young player to do what you love. Play with passion. Never lose the inner joy of playing this game.

What are you most proud of in your rugby career?

There is no one answer to this. The events that come back to me include my first 1st XV game at Brentwood when I was in grade ten; my Canada caps; being a part of the first Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in 1987 when I was 36 years old; playing in a World XV at the Irish Rugby Centenary; and then the rugby event that changed my life - playing for the South Pacific Barbarians where I met Polly, my wife to be.

What are your passions away from rugby?

Family, farming, fishing, sailing, and skiing. I am happy that my two sons are busy with their local construction company, that my wife Polly is now doing their office management, and that Emily is in school at BCIT. So, we are all pretty close.

Are you in touch with Old Brentonians? If so, who?

I often go fishing with Mike Hicks ‘70 on Vancouver Island. My Naramata neighbors are Skip Stothert ‘67 and Mike Ohman ‘67 and I am in touch with Cam Gardiner ‘70, Terry Kirby ‘66, Peter Scarrow ‘69 and Fraser Cameron ‘69, among others.

What role did Lord Buckley play in your development?

Ah, Lord Buckley. At one point I had memorized every sketch of this eccentric humorist and in fact, I recall reciting Jonah and the Whale as an after dinner presentation once. If you don’t know Lord Buckley he is worth a Google.

Once you have gone through a buffet line, what is on your plate?

Meat, a bit of salad and buns to toss at the after dinner speaker.

What would you want people to know about you, beyond the fact that you are a humble and quiet man?

That I have tried to be a decent man. That’s all.

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