Ballot box bureaucracy in rugby must change

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 May, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 May, 1994, 12:00am

A SECRET ballot to be cast on June 23, by the 18 members of the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union, will decide who the next chairman will be; in what direction the territory's governing body will go, and whether there will be change in the overall administrative structure of the game.

Scot Stuart Leckie, the present chairman, will contest New Zealander Jamie Scott for the top job in Hong Kong rugby.

Top, not because of any financial gains, but rather due to the powerful trappings of office; the prestige and the influence.

It is being billed as a contest between North and South; continuity and change; tradition and nouveau opinion.

On circumstantial evidence, it looks as if Leckie will win the vote for a two-year term. A term which will prove to be the most important in the history of the game in the territory.

Crucial because the person at the helm will be the one to guide Hong Kong into the 1997 Rugby Sevens World Cup which they host. The chairman of the HKRFU is also certain to be the chairman of the organising committee for this world tournament - a high-profile position.

The other important aspect is that the new chairman will oversee the proposed development of a home for Hong Kong rugby at Chai Wan, a dream project that can come true soon.

Leckie, who had earlier announced that he would be stepping down as chairman at the end of the 1993/94 season, is at present favourite to regain the helm mainly due to the block vote from the Army (British Forces, Black Watch, Tigers and Flying Kukris) always having gone the way of the establishment, headed by the powerful Football Club.

Being convinced to run again for the position, once the establishment knew Scott was interested in the job, Leckie stands for continuity and tradition.

Under his tenure, nothing out of the ordinary has occurred.

His opponent Scott, meanwhile, is a maverick in the sense that he is unorthodox in his approach. A style which the mandarins of tradition dislike.

It was Scott who laid the groundwork for the change in the Union's administration in 1990, turning it from a club-based system into a streamlined Board of Directors.

It was Scott who last season brought in the change to the scoring system in the league. Undoubtedly a man who is willing to take a gamble, if convinced that it can help improve the system.

But it seems that the new system Scott helped put into place in 1990 is not working the way the founding fathers would have preferred.

The Board of Directors of the Union was supposed to make the Union a more democratic body.

What prompted the change was to allow several new clubs coming in (the development sides) a voice to be heard.

But unfortunately, in hindsight it seems that the system has worked in reverse and shut the door on the new clubs.

They still don't have a say because very few of the new members are willing to stand up and face the establishment.

A good example comes with the AGM on June 23. Most of the eight positions up for grabs (only the secretary and director of grounds is not up for vote), are being uncontested - but nominations have only been received from Football Club.

Instead of a spread of views, it seems Hong Kong rugby will be controlled by one single body - the establishment.

A dictatorship? As long as it is benevolent and helps to improve the lot of rugby in Hong Kong, it is okay.

But if it is just a self-perpetuating old boys society, let's just hope that there is change when the members cast their vote soon.