Short-lived boycott over as DeA make their peace with HKRFU

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 January, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 January, 1998, 12:00am

Troubled First Division Club DeA have reached a truce with the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) and will honour their fixtures for the rest of the season.

DeA boycotted their last game before the Christmas break - on December 6 against Football Club - in protest over the deportation of their captain Wiremu Maunsell, and the reluctance of the HKRFU to back calls for assistance from the First Division clubs over the issues brought about by professionalism.

This was followed by threats to pull-out of the Foster's league competition completely. Their future in the First Division was put into further doubt with two key players, prop Scott Cartwright and centre Andrew Briscoe, leaving the SAR.

But yesterday, DeA chairman Trevor Gregory revealed that the club would return to First Division action this weekend.

'We will fulfil all our fixtures. The players have talked and decided that they would continue. The most important thing at the moment is to finish the season . . . then we can start looking at the problems which are still around,' said Gregory.

However, Gregory urged the HKRFU to continue looking at ways to solve the problems First Division clubs face over getting visas for overseas players and acquiring finances to field competitive sides.

'The HKRFU has to face the issue and deal with it. There is no point trying to ignore the problems . . . the Union and its directors must decide where they want the game to go,' said Gregory.

'At the moment it is impossible to operate a club with players here on tourist visas. This is the biggest problem facing the clubs.' The problems came home to roost for DeA and Kowloon this past November when their star players, Maunsell and Riaz Fredericks, respectively, were refused re-entry by Immigration Department officials after returning from holidays in the region. Both players were deported.

It is no coincidence that DeA's warmer relationship with the HKRFU has followed moves by the local governing body to try to get Maunsell back to Hong Kong.

The HKRFU is currently trying to get Maunsell back as a technical adviser to its new Home for Rugby project in Chai Wan.

DeA will face a hot reception on their return to action on Saturday, coming up against defending champions Valley.

The good news, however, is the return of scrum-half Stephen Kidd from injury. Kidd has been out of action since the Rugby World Cup Sevens with ruptured ligaments in his right knee.

Kidd, the first-choice Hong Kong scrum-half before his injury, has been training intensively and is keen to make a successful comeback.