Having tasted the heady brew that is the Pacific Rim Championship it looks as if Hong Kong rugby will soon be deprived of any further involvement in 'top-level' rugby. The sheer intoxication of watching the Pac Rim competition will be vouched for by any die-hard rugby fan in town. While it is is still not in the top-tier class of international rugby, or even the Super 12 for that matter, the Pac Rim serves its purpose in that it gives Hong Kong a chance to play at a higher and very competitive level - even if it is done with an 'imported' team. But that chance could soon be erased. The decision taken by the five First Division clubs this past week not to import players next season is the death sentence on Hong Kong's future participation in the Pac Rim. The ball was set rolling by the Hong Kong Football Club's general committee which passed a resolution not to pay or employ professional players. In the wake of this decision, the senior clubs met on Wednesday, when it was decided that Hong Kong's dalliance with 'pro' rugby would come to an end. It was a tempestuous affair while it lasted. But once the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union decided to jilt the clubs (essentially by not smoothing the way with the Immigration Department to get work visas for the players), the end was always near. Last week the divorce was complete. While I am totally against bringing down players for just a season, or simply to field a Pac Rim side, it must be mentioned that this decision could also ring the death knell for those rugby journeymen who have in the past reached here solely with the aim of first playing rugby and then finding a job. Hong Kong rugby has been enriched by many such players over the years. Some of them have given the best years of their life to Hong Kong. Two of them are Stuart Krohn and Vaughan Going, both of whom incidentally had a joint farewell party a couple of days ago to bid goodbye to Hong Kong. Krohn and Going may not have arrived in Hong Kong if they had not heard of the opportunities available in this town to play rugby. Opportunities like representing Hong Kong. Having come here, they received help from the friends and clubs before finding their own feet. But if word gets around now that Hong Kong is a place where opportunities are almost nil - economically it looks like that - then very few rugby players would be willing to venture here. A grand tradition will end. A way of life, as we know it, will end. So be it. Hong Kong rugby's award for fair play has become the victim of foul play. The 31 Trophy, which is traditionally given by the Hong Kong Referee's Society to the team who they think upholds sportsmanship during the season, was 'stolen' on Friday night. Police had won the award for the 1997-98 season and they were handed the prize at the HKRFU Awards night at the Furama Hotel. Apparently during the revelry of the night, the trophy went walkabout. 'It went missing. We don't know who took it,' Police club member Martin Heyes said at the time. But woe-betide those who attempt to pinch something from under the noses of Hong Kong's finest. Happily, Heyes reported yesterday that the trophy had been returned. Another job well done by Hong Kong Police. Like the Oscars, the Union decided to hand out a 'Special Achievement Award' - the first time it has done so - to Ian Brownlee, former Hong Kong and Valley coach and now chairman of selectors. Well done, Ian - a person who has been involved in local rugby for the past decade or more. But at the same time, it would be careless on our part if we did not ask why the Union did not hand this same award to George Simpkin who in our mind has done as much, if not more, for Hong Kong rugby. It seems very churlish of the Union not to do so.