Alisports invests $100m into rugby in China



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Alisports invests $100m into Rugby in China

Alibaba will invest $100m (£82m) into Chinese rugby over the next 10 years as part of a joint initiative with World Rugby to grow the game in the world’s most populous country.

Alisports, the sporting arm of e-commerce giant Alibaba, says it wants to bring 1m new players into the ‘great Olympic team sport’ within the next five years.

According to World Rugby’s most recent statistics, just 58,000 people currently play the game in China – not including the 21,307 estimated to play in Hong Kong.

Yet Alisports believes it can encourage mass participation in the sport through its investment which will aid efforts to set up programmes in 10,000 schools and universities, recruit and train 30,000 coaches and establish the country’s first professional leagues for men and women.

The firm will also capitalise on Alibaba’s vast database of hundreds of millions of users on its digital platforms to raise rugby’s profile amongst consumers in the People’s Republic.

China is reported to have ambitions to host the Rugby World Cup, which will go to Asia for the first time in 2019 with Japan as host.

While Alisports is making no direct investment into rugby in Hong Kong, it is believed that the Hong Kong Rugby Union’s (HKRU) long-standing relationship with China rugby will work in its favour.

One definite area Hong Kong stands to benefit in the long-term is in an on-field sense, with the improvement of the China 15s and sevens teams set to offer Hong Kong sides greater access to high-level opposition.

A speaker from World Ruby is expected to throw more light on latest ruby initiatives at the forthcoming Coliseum Summit ASIA-PACIFIC, October 25-26, 2017 in Beijing, China.

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