Two landmark events that take place this week will highlight the good work the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) has done to ensure the future of the game in Hong Kong. Tomorrow the International Rugby Football Board will formally accept China as its 76th member. And on Friday, Chan Fuk-ping will step into history, becoming the first Chinese to grace a Hong Kong team at a major international sevens tournament. The HKRFU can sit back and take all the credit for these two momentous developments, which a decade ago would have been laughed off as far-fetched by those who couldn't see further than the end of their beer bellies. Two men in particular will take immense satisfaction with the Chan-China connection - HKRFU technical director George Simpkin and assistant director of development K.K. Chiu. It has been due to the hard work and dedication of this pair that the HKRFU can this week showcase to the entire world the progress of its development programme, started in 1988. Funnily enough, it was the present HKRFU chairman, Peter Duncan, who decided then to hire Simpkin - who had just taken Fiji to the quarter-finals of the inaugural 15-a-side World Cup in 1987. After a brief stint away from the territory, Duncan is back, and it must be satisfying for him to see the seeds of that development programme bear fruit. 'It is a tribute to George Simpkin and his team that a player has graduated so quickly to the top level. There are other Chinese players with outstanding potential playing schoolboy and youth rugby and I'm sure the selection of Chan Fuk-ping will inspire them to greater heights,' said Duncan. Earlier this year, the HKRFU revealed that there would be a multi-million dollar expansion of its local development programme, with more emphasis being placed on recruiting Chinese players from school and college levels. What initially started as taking the game to the local community quickly spread across the border. Simpkin was shrewd enough to realise that one could not grow without the other. 'Coupled with the growth of rugby on the Chinese mainland and the prospect of teams from southern China playing in our leagues next season, the outlook for the game in this part of the world is rosy,' added Duncan. Yes indeed. When IRB chairman Vernon Pugh accepts China as a member of the world governing body tomorrow at the Hong Kong Football Club, it will pave the way for smoother links between Hong Kong and the mainland. Simpkin predicts that a Chinese team will be playing at the the 1999 Hong Kong Sevens. He has already outlined the steps which must be taken in the next six to 12 months to keep the momentum going on the mainland. Primarily, it will centre on raising millions of dollars to start a league structure, and to further spread the game in that all important bastion, the PLA. Sponsors with an eye on the future should cash in quickly. Already opinions have been aired that China will be a rugby superpower by 2020. None less an expert than Pugh has predicted this. With the Chinese sporting hierarchy fully behind rugby now - Wei Jizhong , the powerful secretary general of the Chinese Olympic Committee, is a keen fan - it is tempting to think of the future in rosy terms. And all this is thanks to the HKRFU. They can bask in the glory - of watching that handshake between Pugh and his Chinese counterpart tomorrow, and winger Chan running on to the pitch. Meanwhile, spare a thought for dropped winger Mark Solomon. It must be frustrating to find out you are ineligible after all that training and hard work.