Asian Five Nations

Prospects grim for China aid

PUBLISHED : Friday, 31 March, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 31 March, 1995, 12:00am

THE Hong Kong Rugby Football Union's (HKRFU) request to the world governing body for funds to develop the game in China has been met with a stony response and is likely to be turned down.

The HKRFU had asked for a sum in the region of $250,000 from the International Rugby Settlement Trust to carry on pioneering the push of rugby into China. But it is known that the outcome will be unsuccessful.

However, senior rugby officials in the territory pledged the development of the game in China would continue, even if funds from abroad were not forthcoming. We are determined to carry on our work in China,' said Peter Duncan, the Union's director of development.

Duncan, who was responsible for drafting Hong Kong's request, added: 'It must be stressed that we have not heard anything official from the International Rugby Settlement Trust as yet and it would be premature to start talking of what will happen until that happens.

'As far as I know, they have not concluded their deliberations as yet. I expect to hear something official in the next two or three weeks.' While nothing official has been issued by the International Rugby Board (IRB) who administer the Settlement Trust, sources told the South China Morning Post the request for a grant would be turned down.

HKRFU secretary Peter Else said that he too had heard on the grapevine that the request was unsuccessful: 'I heard this as well. I don't know on what basis they approve funds, but what I understand is they had turned us down on the basis that China has no Union as yet.

'This is a bit silly as there would be no need to develop the game in China if they had a Union.' The HKRFU had asked for a GBP20,000 grant to continue the work done in the past few years - which has seen the game catch on, mainly in Guangzhou where a provincial Union was formed earlier this year.

It is known that IRB secretary Keith Rowland had privately intimated that the grant would be turned down.

Reports state that the International Rugby Settlement Trust has been inundated with requests, especially from states in eastern Europe like Croatia, for funds to kick-start rugby.

It was felt it was better to support countries with Unions, rather than those without official governing bodies.

The Trust was set up from the profits of the previous two World Cup tournaments. With an independent trustee appointed, the fund is administered by the IRB which has informed all member Unions they could apply for development funds.

Unlike its cricket counterpart - the International Cricket Council gives each of its members a share of World Cup profits - the IRB does not dole out their World Cup profits.

'We don't get anything from the IRB. Everything goes into a piggy bank and we have to make an application. I don't know what their criteria are for doling out money,' said Else.

'We put forward our case, which is the development of the game in China. Rugby is being developed around the world mainly through the efforts of individual unions like us, and not through any effort from the IRB.'