Let's face it, the development of rugby in Hong Kong is moving at a snail's pace. Even the special committee set up last year to look into this matter has hinted at the fact that it will take some more time before Hong Kong can reap the benefits of the seeds sown 10 years ago. So what do we do? One suggestion would be for local rugby to piggy-back on China. Or is it vice-versa? Whatever, this option should be considered seriously as the way forward into the new millennium. Mainland China is the growing force of the next century. It has potential. Anyone who has witnessed the PLA Sports Institute play this season in the local league will vouch for that. So why doesn't the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union make the most of the close proximity and the close ties with its Chinese counterparts and set up a league which would cement the way for the future? Both parties would benefit by an agreement whereby we have more teams from China playing in the local competition. A super league setup with eight or 10 teams is very feasible now that the HKRFU has taken the decision to follow the International Rugby Board's three-year residency rule for SAR representation and the decision to pull out of the Pacific Rim Championship. There will be fewer overseas players coming to Hong Kong because of these latter decisions. The lure is lost. Now that we have burnt our bridges, we must look for an alternative way. Sticking to old ways and just hoping that local players will come through will not be good enough. The HKRFU must make things happen. One way would be to set up this super league comprising more teams from mainland China. If the details can be worked out - like visas, financing, etc - we could envisage a scenario where we would have about four teams from China (PLA, Beijing Agricultural University, Guangzhou and Shanghai, for instance) playing alongside our own teams in the First Division. The Chinese teams would have to be based in Guangzhou or Shenzhen for the duration of the season, unless they are willing to travel to and fro. Money would be the biggest hurdle. It would be left to the HKRFU to finance such a setup. The knee-jerk reaction would be to ask 'why should we do it?' But let's look at the benefits for Hong Kong. More teams from China would add credence to the sport amongst the local community. A greater awareness would potentially mean a larger pool of recruits in the future and sponsors too. Playing in such a competition would also give locally born Chinese a better stage to exhibit their wares. The playing field would also be more level. It would be compulsory for each of the local clubs to field Hong Kong Chinese players. In the first year it could be two per team and then gradually increasing to a minimum of four. Is this biased? Not if the goal of the HKRFU is to bring on local players. A good example is what is happening in South African cricket. The United Cricket Board of South Africa has stated that this season, the provincial teams will have to field two non-white players each. Ali Bacher, UCBSA managing director said recently: 'There should be, on a regular basis, 22 players of colour appearing in the 11 provincial teams next season and the season after that we will look for 33 and the year after that we will go beyond that.' The South Africans realise that for cricket to flourish, the game has to progress in the townships and amongst the majority community. The same theory should apply for local rugby too. The development of rugby has gone on for the past decade. It appears to be stumbling at the moment. If the HKRFU is keen to get it back on track, then it should link up with China. This is the way forward.