200,000 New Players in One Province with a Stroke of the Pen: LETS RUGBY
[ed. comments below]
posted July 5 2017
Rugby in China is a fascinating subject. China has a culture that's, well, foreign to most North Americans. Due their form of government they have the ability to mandate sweeping changes on short notice in a top down approach.
In the article from Asia Rugby
it notes that 200,000 new rugby players will come on line by "letters of appointment to P.E. teachers in the 20 member Universities". The logistics of that aren't explained but it would appear that rugby is now officially on the university PE curriculum and that PE may be as mandatory there as first year English is in Canadian universities.
This is all happening in one province, Heilongjiang, and with 22 provinces and some basic math, that number could be over 4 million if other provinces follow suit. Four million new rugby players with a stroke of the pen, many in that 18-21 university range and we haven't even talked high school and elementary school yet.
Sure it's touch rugby and it's at a basic level but it's a seed planted and how will rugby grow there in the next decade?
The launch of the provincial event was at Harbin Engineering University, they have about 25,000 undergraduates, with another 8,000 postgraduates. If the other 19 universities in the province were a similar size that represents about half a million undergraduate students with slightly less than half of them apparently (200K) getting ready to learn rugby. It gives the term "explosive rugby growth" a new meaning.
The article goes on to explain, "Plans are already in place for World Rugby Training and Education courses to be organised to support the projected growth and ensure that pathways are in place to maximize player retention."
The video below shows the official launch of the inaugural Heilongjiang Provincial University Rugby Association along with a "Try Rugby" tournament. One of the interesting quirks to take note of that's actually cute (a word by the way I never thought I would use on this site) is they change Try Rugby to Lets Rugby (no apostrophe) by the end of the video. The transition turns rugby from a noun to a verb and, well, it just works. So from now on we declare rugby to be a verb as well as a noun, the full meaning to be duly expanded on by rugby philosophers worldwide.
[ed. if you have any rugby contacts in China let us know, we'd like to follow up with further articles firstname.lastname@example.org