Plans for China to get a professional rugby competition, as part of a $100 million investment, have stalled.

Plans To Bring Professional Rugby To China Stall

Two years ago, World Rugby and Alisports, put forward bold proposals for expanding rugby into China with as much as $100 million going to be invested in the game there.

Their proposals included forming a men’s and women’s league in the XV’s form of the game as well as creating a national sevens programme. This huge amount of money was designed to be spent over ten years.

However it appears now as if those plans have stalled considerably. In a recent interview, Alisports CEO Zhang Dazhong has indicated that it is too soon to think about investment in the professional game in China at the moment.

Investor: Dazhong Zhang of Alisports has said it is too soon to invest in the pro game (Getty Images)

“There isn’t much progress on that right now,” Zhang said. “First we want to cultivate the popularity of rugby in China so we will start with that first, and then once we’ve started then we will think about the goals, like this $100m promise.

“We will start with campus rugby first… We will not be involved with any club, federations or national level regarding the sport.”

What is clear, is that expansion of rugby in Asia is the next step in growing the game significantly. Next year the Rugby World Cup will be held in Asia for the first time as it the big event lands in Japan.

According to Japan Today participation of rugby has nearly doubled in Asia between 2009 and 2017, but China has been selected as a possible area of expansion because only 80,000 people there play the sport – which is called “English-style olive ball” in Chinese. Amongst spectators football and basketball are a lot more popular as well.

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