Clubs' deal creates new power

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 July, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 July, 2004, 12:00am

Aberdeen Rugby Club is looking forward to the arrival of more top local players after the announcement yesterday of its collaboration with Hong Kong Cricket Club.

'Several very good rugby players from other top clubs have expressed an interest in joining us as a result of this venture,' said Aberdeen stalwart Richard Cooke last night as HKCC embraced the rugby club 'with open arms'.

The new club will be known as HKCC Aberdeen and the arrangement promises a solution to Aberdeen's declining membership numbers of recent years. 'About two or three years ago our playing numbers were down as compared to our competitors,' Cooke said.

As the HKCC had already expressed an interest in Aberdeen, the collaboration was initiated back then. However, the venture was delayed as Aberdeen went through a tumultuous period.

Despite the decreasing membership numbers, Aberdeen still managed to hang on to their First Division status, even winning the Grand Championship in the 2001-02 season.

But a season later, further decline in membership saw the HKCC collaboration return to the fore.

It was agreed that the HKCC with its first-class facilities on both the social and sporting fronts, was going to be a positive factor for any potential members. Thus, for Aberdeen to survive in Hong Kong's ever-changing rugby community, talks were resumed with the HKCC for Aberdeen to become its rugby-playing wing.

At the December AGM in 2003, Aberdeen officially declared its union with the Hong Kong Cricket Club as an addition to their current representative programme of cricket, tennis, lawn bowls, squash and netball.

HKCC chairman Rodney Miles stressed: 'Our focus is on the good of sport in general. Of course, cricket is still our top priority.'

By taking an existing club under its wing, the HKCC benefits from a pre-existing infrastructure which boasts a youth and mini programme second only to Hong Kong Football Club's.

Aberdeen with its proven track record of promoting sport within its local community was an obvious choice for the HKCC.