Rugby in China Boosted as IRB Signs Game Development MOU

Dublin-Ireland, May 11, 2012: Game Development MOU, Rugby in China has received another significant boost with the announcement that the International Rugby Board has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the city of Guangzhou in China and the Chinese Rugby Football Association (CRFA).

The MOU is designed to jointly foster the Game and give structure to Rugby’s growth in the Guangzhou region with all parties giving their full commitment to making sure the Game goes from strength to strength in one of Rugby’s most exciting emerging markets.

With the national team taking part in the IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup this weekend in London, the Chinese authorities have reaffirmed their commitment to growing both men’s and women’s Rugby, particularly given the opportunities that now exist with the sport’s re-inclusion in the Olympic summer programme from 2016.

IRB Head of Development and Performance Mark Egan was in Guangzhou, along with IRB Regional General Manager for Asia Jarrad Gallagher, to sign the MOU on behalf of the IRB and to hold extremely fruitful discussions that focused on the possibility of staging future international Rugby tournaments in the city and also the development of Rugby in the city’s schools and universities.

“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 and the signing of this Memorandum of Understanding is another step forward in that regard. Guangzhou is set to become a center 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 grass roots 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.”

“An independent study highlights an 18 per cent increase in participation rates in Asia since Rugby World Cup 2007. The reasons for that growth have been attributed to the growing profile and success of Rugby World Cup, the IRB’s investment strategy and also Rugby’s re-introduction into the Olympic Games from 2016.”

“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.”

“With Rugby World Cup 2019 set to be staged in Asia for the first time, the Game in China is set to benefit from that boost in profile.”

The IRB delegation, led by Egan, visited a number of venues in the city, including V Tianhe Stadium and Kangwei Stadium (Zengcheng), as well as schools, universities and the site of the proposed Rugby training centre. There will be a number of follow-up visits in the coming months to lend further support and to assess progress.


• Guangzhou City is the third largest city in China. It has an estimated population of 12.7 million and is one of China’s leading commercial and manufacturing regions

• The city hosted the Asian Games in 2010, including the Rugby Sevens competition, which was one of the most successful events at the Games with capacity crowds of 30,000 filling the University Town Stadium

• The Guangzhou Sports Bureau is keen to showcase the city and demonstrate how it has benefited from hosting a multisport event and now boasts excellent high performance facilities

• There are currently 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.

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