Robert ‘Bob’ Spray was a competitive player in the UK but started refereeing when he came to Canada in 1947. He put Canada on the rugby–playing map by establishing a liaison with the major rugby countries of the world. This resulted in a constant flow of international teams touring BC, such as Queen’s University, Belfast, New Zealand All- Blacks, Britain’s Barbarians and Lions, and Australia’s Wallabies and Canadian teams touring the countries from which these touring teams called home.

Spray served as a member of the Panel of Senior Referees from 1948-55. He was chairman of BC Referees from 1950-52. Later he became president of the BC Rugby Union from 1952-58 and chairman in 1959.

Spray was the first person to successfully persuade the UK’s famous all-star Barbarians to tour abroad in 1957. As a result, numerous other overseas sides followed to tour BC. He refereed many of these international matches in BC.

Spray was instrumental in achieving an invitation for a BC side to tour Japan in 1959. After that he served as chairman of the Rugby Tours Committee of Canada from 1960-65. He was also the founding president of the new Canadian Rugby Union from 1965-72. The old union had disbanded at the start of World War II in 1939. Spray also served as vice-president of the Sports Federation of Canada.