LIFE has to go on even when dear and loved ones depart. We were reminded of this last Friday, at the moving memorial service held for Larry Abel, the Union's director of youth, and prime force behind mini-rugby. For so long one of the unsung heroes of Hong Kong rugby, Larry was lost to the game when he died in his sleep 12 days ago. His untimely departure will leave a hole, as large as he was in life, in the territory's rugby fabric. The eulogies from his close friends Gus Cunningham and Trevor Gregory described Larry as a man with a big heart and one with a zest for life. It is men like these that Hong Kong rugby needs, as the territory now moves forward into momentous times. Men who have the ability to think far ahead, be level-headed and most of all have the interests of the game at heart. Unfortunately men like Larry are rare. Losing him is a huge loss to Hong Kong rugby. The person who fills his large shoes (the Union's board of directors will appoint a successor on Wednesday), will have a big act to follow. Larry was involved with Hong Kong rugby for more than three decades. It is sad that he will not be around to see the territory's attempt to breach the game's final frontier bear fruit. By all accounts, it seems that the Union's far-sighted move to develop rugby in China - started about five years ago - has at last been recognised by the International Rugby Board. The IRB has stated that until such time as a Chinese Rugby Union is formed, all funds and assistance from the world's governing body would be channelled through Hong Kong. The Union is in the process of drawing up a proposal to the IRB, outlining what steps have to be taken to continue the pioneering work done by them with the invaluable sponsorship of Hong Kong company Wharf. In the past two years, Wharf has given $500,000 to the development of the game in China. Let's hope they continue to do the good work. The IRB, meanwhile, will also be asked to pitch in financially, and most importantly, help distribute a collection of videotapes of the game in Mandarin and Cantonese, which the Hong Kong Union will soon make. It makes sense that the game - from its mere basics of how to play to the laws - should be translated into the leading language of the region. The IRB who by signing an agreement with the powerful French-dominated European rugby body FIRA recently, will be the standard-bearer of the game all round the world. In the past they have paid lip-service to these ideals. Now they must be seen to do something practical. Pushing the game to China offers them the most obvious test. Soon they will appoint a development officer to overlook the progress of the game in this part of the world. The pact between the IRB and FIRA, as to who runs world rugby, has also paved the way for the game to get back into the Olympic family. With Olympic status, the game has more chance of getting a firm foothold in a country like China. The recent surge of interest in the Chinese media in rugby, following the landmark agreement between the International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch and Vernon Pugh, chairman of the IRB, is a good sign. Hong Kong and the IRB must continue to keep the momentum building as the game enters new and exciting times. Larry Abel, up in the grandstands of the gods, will certainly be watching proudly.