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Hong Kong Rugby Union

Save our rugby pitch: HK$40 million Tin Shui Wai ground under threat from developers as union launches urgent appeal

  • Hong Kong Rugby Union has launched an online appeal for the public to oppose a rezoning application to the Town Planning Board
  • The ground is home to the Tin Shui Wai rugby club and has produced three Hong Kong sevens players
PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 October, 2018, 10:18am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 October, 2018, 10:37pm

Hong Kong rugby’s HK$40 million investment in a Tin Shui Wai sports ground will go up in smoke if developers have their way.

The Hong Kong Rugby Union this week launched an urgent appeal to the public to put pressure on the government to refuse an application to rezone a 10,486 square metre area in the heart of Tin Shui Wai. According to the union, “some influential members of the political community” want to turn the field and immediate area into a shopping complex and a car park.

The government is set to consider the rezoning application on December 21.

“I think our concern is not so much what happens in January next year but what will happen in January, 2020,” said HKRU chief executive Robbie McRobbie. “If they do approve the rezoning, they will need an application to build on the site. We have invested a lot of money into Tin Shui Wai and all that will go up in smoke if we lose it.”

The HKRU has started a Facebook appeal in which supporters are asked to fill out a form opposing the development and send it to the Town Planning Board by the November 2 deadline for comments to be submitted.

A document outlining the development proposal states that the applicant “seeks Town Planning Board agreement to rezone the application site from ‘Open Space’ and ‘Road’ to ‘Comprehensive Development Area’ for community complex, market, cooked food market and car park uses”.

McRobbie said the HKRU had invested about HK40 million in the Tin Shui Wai Community Sports Ground over the past five years, including the building of a new toilet block and two pitch replacements.

The Tin Shui Wai ground is the home of the Pandas rugby team and the development initiatives at the site is responsible for the grooming of three players who have become part of the Hong Kong Sports Institute’s rugby sevens programme – Fong Kit-fung, Chong Shun-hong and Mak Kwai-chung.

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“Over the last 10 years the Hong Kong Rugby Union has invested over HK$100 million in the provision and improvement of community sports facilities,” McRobbie wrote in the union’s appeal to the public. “Our two biggest investments have been the King’s Park Sports Ground and the Tin Shui Wai Community Sports Ground, where the HKRU have been granted Short Term Tenancy agreements by the Government to design, build and operate sports facilities for the public to use and enjoy.

“In 2017 alone, our Tin Shui Wai pitch had over 2,200 hours of community use by 65,000 users, across a wide range of different sports and events.

“But now our Tin Shui Wai pitch is sadly under threat – some influential members of the political community have applied to the Town Planning Board to rezone the land so they can build shops and a car park, and this will be decided at a Town Planning Board hearing on 21st December.”

Tin Shui Wai boasts a number of teams who play in the Hong Kong league at various levels, including under-16 boys, under-19 boys and under-19 girls. In addition, more than 100 children aged between four and 12 are part of Tin Shui Wai’s thriving mini-rugby scene.

Local authorities have been largely supportive of rugby. Since 2010, the Yuen Long District Sports Association and Leisure and Cultural Services Department has funded a rugby-specific development programme within the district. A total of eight primary and eight secondary schools are involved in the programme.

The District Sports Association is also backing local club Tin Shui Wai Pandas by providing a coaching support subsidy for the club.