Former rugby union international Brian Moore is angered by the news that ex-England player Hendre Fourie is facing deportation
after the flanker was forced to retire because of a shoulder injury.
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“What I would like to see is anyone like him who makes a national contribution is given extra 'points' so they can stay”
The South-Africa born open-side, who has been living in the United Kingdom for eight years, has had his contract cancelled by Sale Sharks, meaning his visa is no longer valid.
The 33-year-old Fourie, who qualified to play for England through residency and won eight caps, injured his shoulder playing against Ireland in 2011 and must leave the country by the end of the month.
"Had he continued with his employment he would still have a visa and he could still stay here, he has a child who was born here," said former England hooker Moore.
"He got injured playing for his country. He was asked to play, he's got the injury which now terminates his contract, which now sends him home, which seems totally, totally invidious to me.
"What I would like to see is anyone like him who makes a national contribution, whether it be in sport or the arts or in some way an extraordinary contribution to this country, is given extra 'points' so they can stay, and maybe get the visa or even the passport they deserve, and if that sets a precedent then yes, fine.
"The precedent is that when you make a huge contribution to your nation then you can have extra points too."
Fourie was only six months away from qualifying for British citizenship and is now in talks with his union, the Rugby Players' Association, about his legal options.
Fourie facts and figures
- Born 19 September 1979 in Burgersdorp, South Africa
- Plays for Shimlas, Maties, the University of Free State and the Cheetahs in his home country
- Moves to South Yorkshire in 2005 and plays for Rotherham
- Joins Leeds Carnegie in 2007
- Qualifies to play for England and makes debut 6 November 2010
- Joins Sale Sharks in 2011.
- Suffers shoulder injury in the run-up to the 2011 World Cup
- Forced to retire from the sport on 3 January
BBC Sport understands Fourie, who has a teaching degree, has now been approached by several schools interested in offering him employment and helping him stay in the country.
"The irony is he didn't get injured playing for Sale, he got injured playing for England, and now the UK wants to kick him out," added Moore.
"The responsibility is on the RFU to go into bat with the Home Office and I think you could widen these [visa] categories to people who make a contribution nationally."
Immigration lawyer Geoffrey Yeung told BBC Sport, "We understand Mr Fourie's permission to live in the UK was granted on the basis of his continued employment with the Sharks. If this was the case, then the effect of his employment contract with the Sharks being terminated would be to cut short his leave to remain.
"Once a visa is curtailed, it is quite standard for the UK Border Agency to allow a person 60 days to leave, after which they may take steps to remove the individual.
"Whilst this is of course unfortunate for Mr Fourie, we see these decisions made frequently, especially in the wake of the recession, which sadly led to numerous redundancies of foreign nationals."
Several of Fourie's former Sale colleagues have expressed their anger via Twitter with #SaveShrek and #FourieToStay trending, and players such as Sharks duo Danny Cipriani and Mark Cueto and Toulon prop Andrew Sheridan adding their names to the campaign.