China Is Investing In Rio's New Olympic Sport By Sending Sevens Players To NZ
The Beijing Sport Bureau is set to invest HK$1.22M ($157,000) to send a group of rugby sevens players and coaches to New Zealand "to learn the art of sevens from the world's finest exponents of the game, including mastermind Gordon Tietjens," according to Alvin Sallay of the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST. New Plymouth, New Zealand will host 35 emerging sevens players for a month in November. The trip "follows the lead of provincial teams across China, all desperate to build viable sevens programmes as the Olympic superpower looks to the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro when sevens will be a medal sport." China national sevens coach Johnny Zhang Zhiqiang, "Beijing is a crucial hub of rugby in China, with nearly 70% of the national team coming from the capital. It can start in Beijing, and that experience can then be passed along to all the other provinces. This will help grow the game rapidly" (SCMP, 9/22).