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Team captain Gao Yan answers questions after the women’s final

Noc News

Opportunity knocks for rugby in China

Date : 26 Mar 2010

Hong Kong: The coach of China’s women’s rugby team is looking forward to strong crowd support at the 16th Asian Games on home soil in Guangzhou in November. Speaking at the Hong Kong Sevens on Friday, after China had lost the women’s final 26-0 to Australia, Zheng Hongjun said China faced tough competition from several teams in the Asian Games.

“Our objective this year is to be the champion in Guangzhou, but we will have strong rivals in Kazakhstan, Thailand and Japan,” Zheng said.

“We believe there will be a good crowd in Guangzhou but the atmosphere will be different to Hong Kong because the Hong Kong Sevens has a long history.

“The players are very excited to play in this kind of atmosphere. They had a similar experience in the United States in February, when they won the tournament in Las Vegas, and they played in Hong Kong last year so they are getting used to this atmosphere. I am sure we will receive good support at the Asian Games.”

Zheng said that the addition of rugby sevens to China’s 12th National Games in Liaoning in 2013 would expand the playing base significantly and strengthen the men’s and women’s teams ahead of the qualifying rounds for the 2016 Olympic Games.

“Most of the players here are from Shandong province, but we will get more and more players from all over China because rugby is in the next National Games. And with rugby in the Olympics from 2016 we will be able to attract more sponsors, and there will be more opportunities for men and women to play,” added Zheng.

The coach said that rugby must tackle three issues at home before it could really take off: more media exposure, more training courses for referees and coaches, and an improvement in the performance of the national teams.

“We must improve our ranking because in China it is a fact that people judge a sport by results. If you are successful people will support you.

“We must also offer scholarships to play rugby at university, and develop a career path for a player once they have finished playing. By doing this we can attract more players.”

Looking back on the defeat by Australia, Zheng said his players lacked experience as they had taken up the game only in their late teens. “Some of them have been playing only one year, and the most experienced has been playing five years. The average is only two years because there is no rugby in China until they finish high school.”

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