12 Jan 2015

Rugby player facing deportation from UK

1:26 pm on 12 January 2015

The English town of Scunthorpe is rallying behind a New Zealand rugby player who is about to be deported.

Rewiti Vaimoso.

Rewiti Vaimoso. Photo: Facebook

Rewiti Vaimoso has played on the wing for mid-ranked side Scunthorpe since he moved to the Lincolnshire town almost ten years ago.

He is being sent home after splitting with his New Zealand girlfriend, who has British residency rights due to her Scottish relatives.

Scunthorpe Rugby Union Club has run a campaign to overturn the player's deportation, which it calls insensitive.

Local MP Nic Dakin said it was "barmy" to send away someone who had contributed so much to the local community.

He told Summer Report the British Government should have used more discretion. "Unfortunately we've got a debate in the UK around immigration which is very emotional and therefore in those circumstances Government feels it has to stick very closely to very clear rules."

Vaimoso was born in Matamata to a Samoan father and Maori mother. He moved to Britain in 2005.

The UK's Home Office said Vaimoso, known as Woody, did not merit a grant of "leave outside the rules", and he was due to leave the country on 19 January.

Vaimoso, who worked at a local steel works, said he would be sad to leave a town which had been his home for nine and a half years.

He said he had worked hard, obeyed the law, paid his taxes and given everything to the town.

His former captain and coach at Scunthorpe, Phil Sidebottom, said it would be sad to lose a player who had worked so hard for the team and also helped coach young players.

In a statement, the Home Office said the player's reasons for wanting to stay were not "exceptionally compelling or compassionate".

Scunthorpe plays in a rugby grade three rungs down from the top and is placed roughly in the middle of that league.