Chan's retirement 'a huge shame' for Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 August, 2005, 12:00am

Hong Kong rugby has lost Chan Fuk-ping for good. The SAR's most famous Chinese player has 'retired' from the game and is now working in Macau, having turned his back on the SAR at the end of a tumultuous period in the latter half of last season.

'He has retired from rugby. His friends have told me that he is not interested in playing any more. It is a huge shame that he has been lost to the game,' said Nigel Clarke, DeA-Tigers player-coach yesterday.

DeA back Chan, 29, made himself unavailable for the national sevens squad - picked on Asian Games eligibility rules - who will play in the Singer-SriLankan Airlines Sevens in Kandy next month.

His absence from the training programme, which began two months ago, gave local officials an indication that they could lose the 'face' of Chinese rugby for good. 'We are not sure if he will be coming back,' said Allan Payne, executive director of the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union.

There had been indications earlier that Chan would forsake the sport which made him famous - he had a stamp issued with his image on it two seasons ago - after he was banned for 20 weeks last season (which was subsequently reduced on appeal) for stamping an opponent during a league game.

Chan, the first Hong Kong-Chinese to play in a World Cup Sevens (in 1997) and one of the first products of the local development programme, had to sit out the World Cup earlier this year due to this ban.

Hong Kong coach Ivan Torpey said: 'We know he is working in Macau. I'm not sure if this is the end of his career with Hong Kong.'

The selectors yesterday announced a 12-strong squad for the September 9-11 Sri Lankan Sevens. Only three players from this year's World Cup squad - Ricky Cheuk, Rowan Varty and Alex Gibbs - are on the squad as the basis of selection was players had to be eligible to play in next year's Asian Games in Doha, Qatar.

Only 10 players can go on the trip, but the selectors have picked an enlarged squad as a number of players are carrying injuries and have to prove their fitness.

Hong Kong have been drawn with China and Malaysia in Group B in the 12-team competition. Group A comprises Japan, Thailand and Singapore, Group C is made up of Korea, Arabian Gulf and Kazakhstan and Group D has Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Guam.