Alisports to invest $100 million into Rugby

October 26, 2016

Alisports have committed to a US$100 million investment over 10 years to support all levels of rugby development in world’s most populous nation.

The investment will support the establishment of first-ever professional men’s and women’s league structures and national rugby sevens programmes.

Alisports will assist World Rugby in major marketing initiatives through its nationwide e-commerce, broadcast & digital platforms.

‘Team China’ is a long-term strategic partnership between World Rugby, Alibaba (through its Alisports division) and the China Rugby Football Association.

It will see the e-commerce giant make a record rugby investment to support targeted projects over the next 10 years to drive national team performance and grow the participation base in the world’s most populous nation.

With rugby experiencing record participation growth and popularity across Asia, driven by rugby sevens’ Olympic Games inclusion and Japan’s hosting of Rugby World Cup 2019, the project will initially focus on four main goals:

– Establishment of first-ever professional men’s and women’s 15s leagues and national sevens programmes to drive forward China as a powerhouse on the international stage by creating dedicated high-performance pathways and support structures

– World Rugby’s Get Into Rugby mass participation programme to be run in 10,000 universities and schools in 20 provinces with the target of attracting and retaining one million new players over the next five years.

– Development programmes to achieve the recruitment and training of 30,000 coaches and 15,000 match officials by 2020

– A major rugby marketing and promotion initiative that will see Alisports invest in nationwide marketing and promotional programmes while carrying rugby content on its TV and digital platforms and Alibaba, the world’s biggest e-commerce platform

Speaking at the launch in Shanghai today, World Rugby Chief Executive Brett Gosper said: “World Rugby’s strategic mission is to grow the global rugby family. China is central to that mission and we are delighted to be announcing further details of our ground-breaking plans in partnership with Alisports and the China Rugby Football Association.

“Driven by a common vision, ambitious but attainable goals and an unprecedented investment programme, we are confident that we can build a strong and sustainable platform from which to ensure that China is in the best-possible position to become a major force on the international stage with strong men’s and women’s sevens and 15s teams, sustainable leagues, model development and participation programmes and real major event hosting potential.”

Zhang Dazhong, CEO of Alisports, said: “Rugby is a great Olympic team sport with strong values, which is why we are so excited about its undoubted potential in China. We have a great partner in World Rugby and together we will work tirelessly to promote the development of rugby in China with a goal of inspiring one million new players in five years.

“With the support of World Rugby and a strong strategic plan, we believe that rugby in China will take off as an attractive, inclusive mass-participation sport of sportsmanship and character.”