Rugby in China
On December 15th in 1990, Professor Cao Xihuang established the first domestic rugby team at China Agricultural University (CAU). The team was based on the original Peking Agricultural University team, supported by some foreign friends and the school’s leaderships. Thirty-two male students were chosen to become the school’s first rugby athletes. In spite of the freezing, cold wintry conditions, the new athletes worked as hard as they could to learn new skills under the guidance of their couch. Eventually, it was decided that the coaching group would go to Japan and Hong Kong to study the advanced foreign techniques and training skills needed to build an international class team. When the coaches returned, the practice sessions improved and the skill level of the team gradually advanced toward a higher standard.
In March 1992, the CAU team had 6 friendly matches with different Hong Kong teams at the South Agricultural University. For their first outing, the CAU squad came away with two wins. It was also the first time rugby was competitively played in the new China. Shortly thereafter, the sport began to spread to some of China’s other major such as Shanghai, Shengyang, Fushun, Dalian, and Guangzhou.
In early April of 1992, the Beijing High School Rugby Association was established at CAU. Later on, the Northeast Rugby Development Center opened in Shengyang, with the Guangzhou Rugby Association following shortly thereafter. National rugby coach training classes were soon started in Beijing, Shengyang, and Shanghai with experts hired from Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, England and New Zealand leading the training. More than 500 persons attended the training. At the same time, about 30 new rugby teams were founded. With more teams, domestic competitions became more frequent including the "Hua Yuan Cup” in 1992 and the "PAU Cup" invitational tournament held at CAU in 1993. Shengyang Agricultural University held the " Nine Dragon Camalig Tournament in 1994, while the Shanghai Science and Engineering College along with the Shanghai Athletic College held three successive Chinese City Rugby Games with 20 teams from Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, England and Australia competing.
In May of 1994, the Chinese University Student's Rugby Association was founded at CAU. Four domestic games and one international game were subsequently held on the CAU campus between 1994 and 1998. China's top 3 teams also attended matches in Taiwan and Hong Kong. In addition, a special study tour was arranged for the Chinese University Student's delegation to Australia, Malaysia and England with more than 70 news agencies carrying reports on rugby in China. With the strong support of the university student rugby group, China’s National Athletic Committee established the Chinese Rugby Association in October 1996. Then in March of the following year, the International Rugby Council accepted China as its 96th formal member.
Since 1998, the Chinese Rugby Association has held annual championships. They also organized an "international sevens championship" in Shanghai in 2001 as well as one the following year in Beijing.
The top domestic student team has attended numerous international events, with wins over teams from India, Thailand, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Kazakhstan, Belgian. They were champions in Singapore in 1998, finished second in Hong Kong in 2000, were 5th in the 14th Asian Games, and 1st in the "Thai King Cup" in 2002.
1st World University Rugby Sevens Championship
The International University Sports Federation (FISU), a consortium of 143 countries and regions with headquarters in Belgium, is responsible for regular university games and individual sports. At the 2003 FISU Council Meetings, Zhang Xinsheng, Vice Minister of Education for China, was elected vice chairman of the Federation. In addition, Beijing was selected to serve as the host city for the 1st World University Rugby Sevens Championship, with China Agricultural University authorized to host the championships in cooperation with the University Sports Federation of China.
The championship will be held from Sep 13th to the 19th 2004. Thirty-two teams, 24 male and 8 female, are scheduled to participate. The championships have attracted significant media attention including China Central TV, Beijing TV, China Education TV, China Sports, the China Youth daily, the Beijing Youth Daily, China Education and so on, who will conduct field pickup and relative reports.