From left: Chairman Rugby Fiesta 2016 Rizan Nazeer, SLRFU Secretary Nazeem Mohamed, HSBC Head of Marketing Tharanga Gunasekera, George Gregan (former Australian Scrum half), HSBC Chief Operating Officer Sriyan Cooray, and HSBC Head of RBWM and Wealth Management Nilantha Bastain
By Shamseer Jaleel
HSBC Sri Lanka, leveraging its global Rugby association as the official banking partner of the Qantas Wallabies, yesterday announced the arrival of HSBC Rugby Ambassador and former skipper and scrum half of the Wallabies George Gregan, who is on a two day tour to support and engage in the bank’s involvement in the oval shaped ball game locally.
The much celebrated George Gregan is Australia’s highest internationally capped player as he was the 64th player inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2013. His illustrious career spanning over 20 years started in 1996 when he became a foundation player for the Brumbies Franchise. He was instrumental in winning the Rugby World Cup in 1999 in the team captained by John Eales. Gregan went on to captain the Wallabies and under his captaincy, the Wallabies emerged as the runner up in the RWC 2003. Gregan was later appointed to the Order of Australia (AM) for services rendered to the Rugby Union. He was also inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2009, holding the world record for the most tests played with 139 for Australia against 15 nations and two invitational selections, the British and Irish Lions and the Pacific Islanders (Lions and Pacific Islanders). The Gregan and Larkham Stand at the Canberra Stadium was named after the duo Gregan and his Australia half-back partner Stephen Larkham.
Chief Operating Officer of HSBC Sri Lanka and Maldives Sriyan Cooray said, “As an international bank that has been associated with Rugby through several sponsorships both globally and locally, we wanted to bring an international flavor of the sport to local audiences. We are happy to be able to leverage the partnership HSBC Bank Australia has with Qantas. We feel this is a good opportunity, as we further our commitment and support towards Rugby in Sri Lanka to give rugby fans and emerging players a chance to interact with a celebrity player. We welcome all rugby fans to visit the HSBC Rugby Zone at the Bradby Fiesta today and meet HSBC Rugby ambassador George Gregan in person.”
Meanwhile, HSBC Sri Lanka has partnered with the Sri Lanka Rugby and Football Federation (SLRFU) and the Schools Rugby Union to hold a Coaching Masterclass for all captains and scrum-halves of A Division rugby schools in the country. The coaching Masterclass will be held at the CR&FC Grounds in Colombo, where Gregan will mentor them and engage in coaching activities as both a former skipper and scrum half. The session will also be attended by HSBC’s A Division Rugby team.
Secretary of the SLRFU Nazeem Mohamed said, “We are delighted to have George in Sri Lanka. It is fantastic for the game and especially for the future stars of Sri Lanka Rugby who will meet him. We are thankful that HSBC has taken this great initiative to help and promote the sport in the country.”
HSBC Premier Customers also got the opportunity to meet George Gregan at an exclusive customer event ‘The Breakdown with George Gregan’ held at the Park Street Mews later last evening, where they interacted with him on a one-on-one level.
As the main partner of the Bradby Fiesta for the third year running, HSBC will this year present a state of the art Rugby Zone with international games to give rugby fans a true international flavour of the sport right here in Colombo.
The HSBC Rugby Zone will kick start at 10.00 a.m at the Bloomfield Grounds today the day of the Bradby encounter, allowing rugby fans of all ages to come and test their skills and accuracy. They will also get to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience to meet and interact with George Gregan on site as well as receive autographed Rugby memorabilia and capture special moments with him at an exclusive photo booth.
All HSBC credit cardholders will gain free entrance to the Bradby Fiesta on that day to be able to enjoy the carnival atmosphere with live music, competitions and much more as well as be able to catch the live action of the Bradby encounter on giant screens.
George Gregan will also join fans to witness the Bradby first leg encounter between Royal and Trinity played at the Royal College Rugby Complex. As a keen promoter of Rugby worldwide, HSBC has acted as the Official Banking Partner of the Qantas Wallabies, Series partner of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series (WRSS), Principal Partner of the Hong Kong Rugby team and sponsor of the HSBC Penguins International IRFC and Coaching Academy.