Having a nice social set up, apparently, is not inducement enough to draw new players to a club. Listening to Ian Brownlee, coach of Valley, it seems that the open era won't be treating the league champions kindly this season. The irony is not lost. After years of being the 'hub' of the local rugby scene, Valley apparently can not compete against 'market forces' and are unable to handle the professional approach of younger and hungrier clubs like DeA and Aberdeen. Valley must now be feeling the frustration other clubs - like Kowloon - have felt in the past when they were unable to get players to join them. Brownlee has been a vehement voice, a lonely one too, against the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union's all-out embrace of professionalism. At a meeting between the Union and all the member clubs some time ago, Brownlee had raised his objection to the Union's endorsement of the open era. He feels people should still play for the love of the game and not be 'induced' to do so. It is a noble concept, one that is also out-dated. Rugby cannot slap a new expiry date over the old product, rather it has to clear the shelf and promote the brand new game. Brownlee, unhappy with the loss of Valley winger Mark Solomon to DeA (to be fair on DeA, another Valley winger Toby Hunn has been lost to Aberdeen), this week accused his counterpart at DeA, Gary Cross of 'poaching'. He pinned the blame on 'rampant commercialism' (Sports Post, August 22). The inference was Valley could not compete against sides like DeA, Aberdeen and Football Club who have all decided to take the bull by the horns. Football Club have given free membership to new players; DeA have offered jobs and accommodation, as have Aberdeen. Valley, who once had the luxury of being known as the friendliest club in town, are struggling to match the others, according to Brownlee. Hence his verbal attack on Cross, something which has not gone down well with DeA official Chris Meads who strongly backed Cross. 'Gary [Cross] is a full-time employee of the club. It is part of his job to get new players, if Brownlee has a problem with that he should take it up with the Union. There was no grounds for attacking Cross. It is just not on,' said Meads. Meads, the power behind DeA's bid to make a huge impression in their first season in the First Division, knows all too well that Brownlee has no leg to stand on as far as the Union is concerned. Having followed the footsteps of the IRB, the Union has said it would not stand in the way of clubs paying players. However, for the good of Hong Kong rugby, it is best that clubs like DeA look elsewhere for new players. Although Valley cannot complain. Remember Rodney McIntosh and Robin Bredbury playing for Football Club, or Vaughan Going playing for Police. The past has caught up with Valley. They have to adapt or face the prospect of losing their title this season. I'm sure it is a challenge Valley will relish - if they have the players.