Sports / Sports top news

China ready to host more rugby events

By Qiu Quanlin in Guangzhou (China Daily) Updated: 2012-10-22 07:58

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.

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

Gallagher made the remarks at a news conference on Thursday in advance of the Women's International Rugby Sevens tournament that 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," he 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."

With the Rugby World Cup coming to Japan in 2019, there now exists a tremendous opportunity to raise awareness and promote the game throughout Asian countries, he said.

China, which became an official member of IRB in 1997, has yet to qualify for a Rugby World Cup.

The country made its international debut in a friendly match against Singapore shortly after its first national rugby team was formed at the end of 1997.

"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," he 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."

To further promote rugby, which will return to the Summer Olympics in 2016, China will include the sport in its National Games next year, said Liu Rongyao, secretary-general of the China Rugby Association.

"China will go all-out to qualify for the rugby women's sevens competition at the next Olympics," Liu said.

China's women's national rugby sevens team took two years to become the Asian champion.

It won six straight matches at the 2006 edition of the Asian Championships in Tashkent.

Ye Niuping, the mayor of Zengcheng, said the city will build a large rugby training and competition venue within the next three years and a series of promotional activities will soon be launched.

"We will start promoting the sport in schools, communities and government organizations beginning next year," he said.

(China Daily 10/22/2012 page23)

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