On the rugby pitch, Naramata’s Robert ‘Ro’ Hindson had a way of getting your attention from the very beginning. He was tall as a tree, could run like the wind, occasionally had hair like a beast, and then there was his first game for BC against Wales on one of those spectacularly sunny Vancouver days at Brockton Point.

BC won a penalty and Hindson elected to take the kick. While he lined things up, Hindson overheard Welsh legends Gareth Edwards, Phil Bennett, and J.P.R. Williams discussing how they planned to reverse the missed kick by this green Canadian. Hindson gritted his teeth and “toe-punted” the ball straight as an arrow, splitting the uprights. He remembers jogging by the Welsh trio, the look of astonishment clear on their faces.

It wasn’t the last time Hindson shocked opponents. For eighteen years, when rugby foes looked across the pitch at Canadian and BC teams they were faced with the imposing sight of 6’5” 230-lb Hindson to contend with. As they were about to find out, Hindson was more than simply height and size. As one of the best all-round rugby players Canada has ever produced, he could beat you with power, agility, excellent ball skills with both hands and feet, leaping ability in line-outs, and surprising speed.

Born in Durban, South Africa, Hindson’s family globe trotted for several years, living for periods in BC, Australia, and New Zealand, before settling back in BC in the mid 1960s. An active boy, Hindson tried every sport possible, from skiing, rowing, and tennis to squash and hang gliding. His first exposure to organized rugby came at age eleven while at school in Australia.

He seriously began playing rugby at Mill Bay’s Brentwood College. Coaches Alun Rees, Ivor Ford, Bill Ross, and Nick Prowse instilled in him a love for the game as he led Brentwood to Vancouver Island’s first BC high school rugby title.

Little known fact is that Hindson was a top track and field athlete and accepted a rowing scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania—signs of his pure athleticism. If not for the fact he disliked downtown Philadelphia so much and chose to return home, Hindson could very well have gone on to an Olympic rowing career. Back in BC, he attended UVic and UBC, playing rugby for both and soon worked his way into the BC and Canadian sides by 1972-73. Coaches Donn Spence and Tillman Briggs were important influences on him.

Hindson’s unique skill set made him a dominant presence in both the 15-a-side and 7-a-side versions of the game. When he retired in 1990 after an international match against Argentina at Swangard, he had accumulated a record 31 international caps. Two of those caps were earned representing Canada against Ireland and Wales at the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987. Club-wise, Hindson played for UBC Old Boys Ravens and Penticton Harlequins Rugby Club after leaving the coast rugby scene.

Twice Hindson was selected for prestigious international matches overseas alongside the best players from some of the biggest rugby-playing nations on the planet. In 1974, to celebrate the Irish Rugby Football Union’s centenary year, Hindson was selected to play for Irish Wolfhounds in two matches and as a reserve in a third for the President’s XV against the full Ireland side. Few Canadian players had ever been recognized in this way previously. Thirteen years later, Hindson was the only Canadian player selected to play for South Pacific Barbarians on a tour of South Africa.

Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.