China wants to host World Series Sevens, then a World Cup
RUGBY UNION: China has set its sights on hosting the Rugby World Cup "sooner rather than later”, says World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper.
Though the country is not even ranked by the world body - and its name for the sport means "English-style olive ball” - the Chinese Government is said to be a fan of the game as it builds character in those who play it.
"They would very much like a World Series Sevens event, probably in Shanghai,” said Gosper, speaking at the World Rugby conference.
"Then one day, sooner rather than later, they would like to have a World Cup.
"That is how ambitious they are.”
China could aim to host the 2027 edition, with Ireland, France and South Africa already locked as those vying for 2023.
Japan is currently preparing to host the first Rugby World Cup to be held in Asia in 2019.
"China has huge potential for anyone in the sporting business literally with the size of market there,” Gosper said.
"We are coming from a very low base as we estimate there are about 75,000 players in a population of over a billion.
"However, we have been fortunate enough that a company like Alibaba has through its sports agency Alisports, and with help from the sports agency who handles sevens for us, agreed an investment strategy with them of $100 million in China over the next 10 years.”
Gosper said aside from making a bid to host a World Cup, China was going to pour money into every level of the game.
"They want to begin by investing in the professional leagues, sevens and XVs,” Gosper said.
"They are also going to invest in grassroots development and school programs.
"Thus it is a potent mix: the money from the company and the desire of the government to promote team sports as they see it as helping with character-building, which is something that interests them.”