Bouloux left out in the cold
Talented lock forward Ryan McBride has replaced Jamie Bouloux as captain of the Under-19 squad bound for next month's World Championship in France after the International Rugby Board (IRB) turned down the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union's plea to have Bouloux reinstated in the team.
Bouloux, who led Hong Kong to a fourth-placed finish at the Asian Under-19 Championship held here in January, failed to qualify under the three-year eligibility requirement of the IRB. Also out on the same grounds is flanker Will Davies, while wingers Rowan Varty and Brad Wayburne don't qualify because they are underage.
'The IRB turned down our appeal. It is very disappointing as we have lost key players. Jamie [Bouloux] and Will [Davies] were key ingredients in the pack while Rowan [Varty] was our gas,' said Hong Kong Under-19 head coach Terry Hart.
Hong Kong clinched the fourth and last place available to Asia at the April 3-21 Under-19 World Championship by finishing behind Korea, Japan and Taiwan in January's tournament.
Second-rower Bouloux, who was at the helm of that campaign, was informed only afterwards by the HKRFU that he failed to meet the eligibility criteria set by the IRB. In a letter pleading his case to HKRFU executive director Allan Payne, Bouloux said the only criteria he had been told was necessary to play in the World Championship was to be under 19.
The HKRFU took his appeal seriously and wrote to the IRB asking for a reinstatement. But the IRB has turned down the request. 'We are bitterly disappointed. We thought there were good grounds for both players to be in the squad,' said Payne.
Bouloux and Davies have now been replaced by John Stephen and Christopher Hodgson respectively.
'It is a real shame that Jamie and the others are not in the squad. They put a lot in and played a huge role in getting us into the World Cup. I hope we can do them proud,' said McBride, who will now lead the 26-strong squad.
HONG KONG SQUAD
Cho Jun Seok, Harpal Chima, Robert West, John Stephen, Ryan McBride (captain), Donovan Chow, Christopher Drew, Ben Ho Tsz-chun, Justin Leenders, Li Chi-yung, Andrew Tasker, Ashley Wayburne, Raymond Wong Chun-wai, Fong Kai-wai, Tsang Hing-hung, Wong Yiu-hang, Charles French, Christopher Hodgson, Fan Shun-kei, Kwok Ka-chun, James Lewis, Tang Sheung-yin, Rowan Turner, Ralph Wintle, Kotaro Yushida.