China to train rugby play­ers, coaches by 2021

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport -

CHINA is to spend £80m to launch a pro­fes­sional rugby league and the county aims to have one mil­lion play­ers in five years’ time.

World Rugby and the pro­gramme’s spon­sor, e-com­merce gi­ants Alibaba, said they aim to train 30 000 coaches and 15 000 match of­fi­cials by 2021.

China is the world’s most pop­u­lous coun­try, with over a bil­lion cit­i­zens, but of those less than 80 000 cur­rently play the game, whose Man­darin name for the game trans­lates as ‘English-style olive ball’.

The chief ex­ec­u­tive of Alibaba’s sport­ing arm Alisports, Zhang Dazhong, said the game had “un­doubted po­ten­tial” to be­come a “mass­par­tic­i­pa­tion sport” in China.

“We will work tire­lessly to pro­mote the de­vel­op­ment of rugby in China,” Zhang said.

World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper says China has am­bi­tions to host the Rugby World Cup.

He said that World Rugby’s “strate­gic mis­sion is to grow the global rugby fam­ily. China is cen­tral to that mis­sion.

“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.”

Rugby has in­creased its pro­file in Asia thanks to its in­clu­sion in this year’s Olympics and the 2019 World Cup in Ja­pan, as well as the growing world sevens se­ries with the Hong Kong Sevens one of the big­gest events. — Sky Sports

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