China has joined the rugby 7s party. They’ve highlighted it as a huge area of growth within sport and so have decided to get involved through hosting the most lucrative 7s tournament in history.
It’s simple; China currently have 2000 rugby players, which is obviously a miniscule proportion considering it has a population of 1 billion. Alisports is seeking to try and grow the game and encourage lots more people to play. They see an event featuring many of the 7s circuits top players, as the perfect marketing tool in order to entice interest within the sport on a national level.
Each of the top 8 teams from the HSBC World Sevens Series have been invited to play in the tournament, as part of a playoff set up. It’s a very similar format to the ATP Tour Finals within tennis, where the top 8 in the world rankings battle out for end-of-season supremacy.
This event will feature, ‘the highest ever prize money we have ever seen (in rugby 7s),’ according to Brett Gosper of World Rugby.
It’s safe to say the Chinese aren’t joking around. They are extremely keen to launch their own 15s league, which will feature both overseas players and home-grown talent, with the end goal being to host a World Cup in the future.
The tournament has been funded by Alisports, who have invested $100,000,000 in an attempt to grow the game within China. They’re aiming to adopt one million players in 5 years, which is an optimistic target but manageable given their investment.
Within the tournament itself, the crowds will get to see all the best 7s players in the world go head-to-head, as well as their national team, who are also taking part in the tournament. Although they’ll lose to all, it’s all part of an inspirational initiative, which I think is brilliant.
Alisport’s Vice-President, Wei Quenming said, ‘People are still unfamiliar with the sport; for example, they have a hard time telling the difference between American Football and Rugby.’ It seems they have a lot to learn.
This has all the makings of an amazing event, which will no doubt mean the rugby and sporting spotlight will be firmly fixed on China.