England 'repatriates' retired SA flank
Mon, 07 Jan 2013 08:56
I can play for England, but I can't get a passport
Retired flank Hendre Fourie was good enough to play for England, but now that he has quit rugby he is set to be repatriated by the country he represented in eight Tests.
Fourie revealed on Monday that he is poised to return to South Africa, because he cannot get a visa to remain in England.
The 33-year-old flank announced his retirement last week, after because of a shoulder injury.
Once his contract with Sale Sharks was cancelled, his visa was no longer valid.
The 33-year-old, whose 18-month-old son Hendro was born in England, has been in the country for eight years - having played for Rotherham (52 games), Leeds (71) and Sale - who he joined last year and played just three matches before the injury ended his career.
He played in eight Tests for England since his debut in 2010.
"I can play for England, but I can't get a passport to stay in the country,"he told The Times.
"If I had remained on a sports people visa for another two years, I would have got residency, but unless someone is willing to give me another contract, that is not going to happen.
"My wife [Corlia] is South African, but my boy was born here and I would like to have stayed here and tried to get a teaching job.
"There were options to appeal but I would have had to wait another few years before I could get my permanent residency.
"It has been a red-tape nightmare and we just decided it was not worth all the hassle.
"That's the amazing thing, I am not able to claim any benefits in this country. I have always paid my taxes, have represented England, but I have to leave while you hear how they protect the rights of terrorists."
Fourie joined Rotherham Titans eight years ago on a working holiday visa and later switched to an international graduate visa when studying for a teaching degree.
A move to play for Leeds Carnegie would lead to a tier-one highly skilled visa and England selection in 2010.
It looked as though Fourie may earn a place in England's 2011 World Cup squad only for his injury curse to strike again in the final warm-up game against Ireland - his last appearance for his adopted country.
His transfer to Sale that same year triggered another change to a tier-two sports people visa that expired when his contract with the Sharks was cancelled.
A UK Border Agency spokesperson told the newspaper: "Anyone studying or working in the UK must abide by the terms of their visa. If an individual's circumstances change and they no longer meet the terms of their specific visa they can apply for a visa of a different type that better fits their needs."
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