FuzhouExpat is set to publish a 3-part Special on Fuzhou Hujiu Rugby Team, as in The Background(part 1), Go Tigers!(part 2) The Future(part 3). Many thanks to Mr. Andersen Wu(Captain) and Mr. Eichi Negoro for taking their time for the interview. FuzhouExpat feels obligatory to put their contacts at the top. If you are interested in joining or sponsering, please write to either of these two gentlemen at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wish to write to the author, please write to Miss Amanda Sinclair (email@example.com).
[Excerpt: Many may be forgiven for thinking that Fuzhou, whilst capital of the Fujian Province, does not seem much more than a place to work and live, and visit a few places of interest such as Gushan and Xihu. It is not a real tourist attraction, most people preferring to go to Xiamen to sample and enjoy a taste of China that is more inline with what a Western tourist would be able to stomach, and prefer. Therefore, the fact that Xiamen has one of the better rugby teams around is neither a shock nor a surprise, especially with the number of westeners who choose to make Xiamen their home, and bring with them the sport of rugby. However Fuzhou should not be ignored, as I recently found out…]
Rugby In China
Rugby can not be described as a local favourite sport, or even heard of by many Chinese, but it is slowly becoming more and more popular within China.
History of Rugby:
Rugby can be dated back to early centuries and in many countries, each having their own version of a football type game, and all with their own names. However, the rugby that we know and love now is thanks to 16 year old William Webb Ellis, who, whilst playing football at RugbySchool, picked up the ball and ran with it. This was in RugbyTown in Warwickshire, England in 1823. It took 22 years for a set of codified laws to be written down, but the game had already started.
Since then, many countries have embraced rugby and enjoyed learning and playing the sport, both nationally and internationally. The oldest rugby championship was held in 1882 and called the Six Nations Championship. It was originally held between the four United Kingdom nations; England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, with France joining in 1910 and Italy in 2000. However it is still a relatively new, international sport, with the first Rugby World Cup only having been held in New Zealand and Australia in 1987.
History within China:
Most people would be surprised to know that Rugby has a long history within China, though mainly within the more prominent cities, such as Shanghai. There was a dedicated Rugby club within Shanghai in 1905, three decades after the game had started to be played there. Whilst not many of its members were Chinese, there were of a few of mixed Chinese heritage, most members were expatriates or soldiers stationed there at the time. The sport flourished in the 1920’s and 1930’s, but after the war, the last game was played in 1950 and lasted for all of 20 minutes. There wouldn’t be much rugby played for another 4 decades, and certainly no more clubs. The next time a club formed, it was the 1990s, and it was formed by a group of expatriates, who had moved to Shanghai. The game never returned to the former popularity it enjoyed earlier in the century.
However this does not mean that it is not played. China made a bid to enter the 2003 Rugby World Cup held in Australia, and managed to make it through the first two games for the Asia placement from Group C but was knocked out in Round 2. Again, China tried to qualify for the 2007 Rugby World Cup and started in Division 2 and made it through the first Round, but was unfortunate again to get knocked out at Round 2. They were to try to qualify for the 2011 Rugby World Cup but were unable to enter due to complications with visas. This shows that there is an enthusiasm for the sport, and a drive to be able to enter and perform at an international level.
At present, there are a number of Rugby clubs around China, and in Guanzhou and Xiamen there are a number of players and games held at regular intervals. It is to be noted though that 7’s and 11’s are more popular within Guanzhou than Union.
to be continued..