Rugby’s Profile Set to Rise in China

By Community | October 23, 2012

Hosting international rugby tournaments will play a major role in raising the profile of the sport in China, said Jarrad Gallagher, Asian Regional General Manager of the International Rugby Board (IRB).

“The key point of bringing an event to Guangzhou is that it will help inspire more interest from all circles in rugby,” Gallagher said.

The Women’s International Rugby Sevens tournament will be held from Thursday through Sunday in Zengcheng, Guangdong province.

Teams from China, the United States, Thailand, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, South Africa and the Philippines will compete in the tournament.

“I was in Zengcheng in 2010 when the Asian Games were held in Guangzhou and I was quite impressed by the local sport facilities,” Gallagher said.

“We really want to bring a legacy of the Asian Games to the city. That’s why we are bringing such an international tournament back to Guangzhou.”

“Many of the women’s international teams will be coming to Zengcheng and Guangzhou for the first time. The players, such as those from the US and South Africa, will see what a wonderful place Zengcheng is,” Gallagher said.

“The tournament will provide a window for teams to come and see China. Most importantly, the competition will help enhance the competitiveness of China’s women’s rugby.”

The 2019 Rugby World will be played in Japan, providing opportunities to raise the profile of the game throughout Asia.

China became an official member of IRB in 1997 and played its first international match against Singapore later that year but has yet to qualify for a Rugby World Cup.

Rugby will be included in the Summer Olympics in 2016, and Liu Rongyao, secretary-general of the China Rugby Association, said China will include the sport in its National Games next year and “will go all-out to qualify for the rugby women’s sevens competition at the next Olympics.”

Ye Niuping, the Mayor of Zengcheng, said the city will build a large rugby training and competition venue within the next three years and launch a range of community projects to promote the game.

“We will start promoting the sport in schools, communities and government organisations beginning next year,” Ye said.{jcomments on}