Robert, or Bob, Spray is remembered as the "Father of the Canadian Rugby Union."
The Canadian Rugby Union first formed in 1929 but dissolved in 1939 because of the Depression. Because of the vision, effort and hard work of Bob Spray, the Canadian Rugby Union was reborn in 1965.
Bob came to Canada in 1947, took up refereeing, and from 1949 to 1952 was Chairman of the Referees Committee. Following his tenure in that position, he became President of the British Columbia Rugby Union, serving in that capacity for
six years until 1958.
During his time in office, he put BC on the rugby-playing map by establishing a liaison with the rugby countries of the world. His efforts brought a constant flow of world-class touring international teams like the New Zealand All-Blacks, British Barbarians, British Lions and Australia's Wallabies to BC. He also arranged reciprocal tours such as the BC tour to Japan in 1959, and the Canada tour to Britain in 1962. Bob also worked to bring about the Canadian Inter - Provincial Championship.
Bob used his international connections to lobby the International Rugby Board for Canadian membership in the world body. This he achieved, almost single-handedly, in 1965 when the Canadian Rugby Union re-constituted itself after twenty-six years. He was elected the first President of the new body and served in that capacity for seven years.
Bob's outstanding administrative capabilities and his gentlemanly manner made him a great ambassador for British Columbia on the world stage. In 1964, when the Vancouver Sun newspaper donated the Jack Patterson Memorial Trophy to be presented to the most deserving rugby person in the province each year, Bob Spray was the first recipient.
He was inducted to the BC Sports Hall of Fame in 1975 as a builder.