Former Sale Sharks flanker and England international Hendre Fourie will not have to leave Britain at the end of the month, according to the UK Border Agency.
South Africa-born Fourie was to leave the country after his injury-enforced retirement invalidated his visa, causing the rugby community to campaign on Twitter in outrage.
But in a new development, the UK Border Agency has denied that they have come to a decision over the 33-year-old’s fate.
“His visa has not been curtailed at this time – he’s not required to leave,” said a UK Border Agency spokesperson.
“His employment contract with Sale Rugby Club has been terminated and his employer has rightly informed UKBA [United Kingdom Border Agency] of this decision.”
Using the hashtags ‘#SaveShrek’ and #FourieToStay,’ the rugby community was able to mobilise behind the former Rotherham and Leeds player, and publicise his case around the world.
Supportive tweets came from far and wide as the hashtags began to trend – from Sale ex-team-mates Mark Cueto and Danny Cipriani, to former England captain Lewis Moody and Australian superstar Quade Cooper.
Fourie has lived in Britain for eight years with his wife and 18-month-old son Hendro and wants to become a teacher – he possesses a teaching degree.
And at the time of the deportation announcement earlier this week, he was only six months away from qualifying for British citizenship.
But now the UK Border Agency has granted Fourie a reprieve, saying there are plenty of options available to Fourie if he wishes to stay in the country.
“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,” said the spokesperson.
“Mr Fourie has been informed of the process and the various options available to him. It is entirely up to him if he chooses to explore any of them further.”
According to the BBC, the former Rotherham and Leeds man is now in talks the Rugby Players’ Association about his legal options.