Until it hits home, most people never really care about life's injustices. The economic downturn, which to some was just a phrase bandied about, suddenly took on a different light with the news earlier this week that the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union will be shedding staff. It is understood that at least seven people, from the present staff of 24, have been asked to empty their drawers and leave by June 30. The cut will save the union 25 per cent of its annual salary bill - or about HK$2 million. While we sympathise with those people who will not have their contracts renewed, we can fully understand the union's viewpoint. With their source of revenue, the income from the annual Hong Kong Sevens, drying up in the past couple of years and with the present financial climate making it harder to raise commercial support and sponsorship, it was obvious that this step would have to be taken. All credit to the union for biting the bullet and taking this brave decision. But in these circumstances, we must once again raise the question if it is justifiable to continue giving a purse of close to $4 million at the Hong Kong Sevens. At the moment the union is looking at the vexed issue closely. A lot will depend on how the forthcoming IRB World Sevens series pans out. The purse was first given in 1998, the year after Hong Kong successfully hosted the World Cup Sevens. The idea was sound - offer a huge purse, the biggest on offer in world rugby - and those unions who keep away, like England and company, would grab the bait. But as time has shown, it has not quite worked that way. England continue to ignore the Hong Kong Sevens. Big-name players at the past two tournaments have been scarce. Meanwhile, Fiji, winners at the past two events, have been laughing all the way to the bank. And this is a side who would have come anyway. So does the prize money concept still work, especially under the present scenario where every dime saved is important to the union? The union had reserves of over $70 million on April 30, 1997. This had fallen to $50 million last year. Last Friday was the final day of the 1998-99 financial year. We will know the current state of the union when the director of finance, John Chiu, reads his report at the AGM on June 30. With the Sevens profits falling and the financial climate still gloomy, Chiu's report could make grim reading. Having taken the step towards redundancy, the union must go further and cut their losses by taking away the lucrative purse at the Sevens. Otherwise all this human sacrifice would have been in vain.