While Hong Kong rugby seeks to make waves abroad in their bid to secure repechage qualification for the 2019 World Cup, it is far from smooth sailing back home.
Tin Shui Wai Sports Ground, utilised regularly by local sports enthusiasts and the battleground for countless rugby fixtures throughout the season, is now the promised land in the eyes of TSW New Force's Fleco Mo, or Mo Kai-hong.
As reported by local news site Hong Kong 01, Mo's motivation to rezone the area to accommodate a shopping mall (because Hong Kong faces a chronic shortage of those), office building and car park, are ostensibly made to furnish Tin Shui Wai residents with better leisure facilities.
According to Mo, they are made to struggle with exorbitant living and transport costs and adds that such basic living needs are something that should be solved at the expense of rugby clubs, referring to the TSW Pandas.
He goes on to describe the Pandas as comprising of "middle-class" members not native to Yuen Long and Tin Shui Wai, as well as "only providing for their players" and that the club "can easily operate out of other grounds".
In addition to fervent opposition from the Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) led by CEO Robbie McRobbie, the TSW Pandas themselves, Hong Kong Sports Institute Sevens athlete Fong Kit-fung and even cycling stalwart Sarah Lee, several residents have stood up against the aspiring politician over Facebook, arguing that his scheme is grossly misguided on multiple fronts.
One user pointed out that Mo's plan would cause disruptions for the surrounding residential areas and hotel, with another attacking his inability to account for where a replacement ground will be constructed, let alone how it will be financed.
Other comments focused on the veracity of his points, accusing him of exaggerating the duration of a bus commute to a local market, as well as imploring Mo to justify his claim that the current ground only attends to the so-called middle-class.
"You don't understand how much the HKRU has invested in the Ground and used sport as a way to steer local youths away from trouble. Aside from sacrificing their futures for political gain, how can you simply claim that students from the government schools in the area who use the Ground every weekday are middle-class?" remarked another user.
He added that the club, of which he is a member, is in fact run by volunteers holding regular jobs who are committed to using rugby as a way to keep kids active and instilling important life lessons, criticising Mo for attempting to incite class warfare.
These points have as yet gone unanswered by Mo since his October 27 Facebook post and with the Union having received overwhelming support with over 1800 letters submitted, whether the will of the people has any bearing on the cold face of government bureaucracy will be the subject of attention in the weeks to come.