China to train rugby players, coaches by 2021
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