Guangzhou, China: The International Rugby Board (IRB) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou and the Chinese Rugby Football Association – another sign of China’s growing commitment to the game as sevens rugby prepares to join the Olympics in 2016. The IRB’s Head of Development and Performance, Mark Egan, was in Guangzhou, along with the Regional General Manager for Asia, Jarrad Gallagher, to sign the MOU on behalf of the IRB.
“With over 80 per cent of the world’s youth, the IRB has identified the Asia region as being a key growth area for rugby. The signing of this Memorandum of Understanding is another step forward in that regard. Guangzhou is set to become a centre of excellence and a genuine hub for the sport in China," said Egan.
“The IRB’s commitment via the MoU is to support the development of the game in the region through the introduction of grassroots programmes in schools and universities, delivering extensive training and education programmes for coaches and referees and promoting the establishment of both domestic and international rugby events in the Guangzhou area. “The IRB is investing approximately £9 million into the development of rugby in Asia between 2009 and 2012, a region where men’s and women’s fifteens and sevens is going from strength to strength.
We have already witnessed a significant uplift in China, where rugby sevens will be included in the China National Games for the first time in 2013 and where the Asian Games Rugby Sevens event held in Guangzhou in 2010 attracted a capacity 30,000 crowd.” There are 7,000 rugby players in China with an objective in place to significantly increase that number over the next 12 months within the framework of the MoU.