Rugby turns its attention to Asia

Japan Sport Council and James Mortimer     30 Mar 2013     Japan Sport Council

The 2013 tournament is another key stepping stone towards Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan. The 2012 Tokyo Sevens was the first international Sevens tournament to be held in Japan in 11 years and just six years now remain until Japan hosts Rugby's biggest event.

"JRFU is the host union of Rugby World Cup 2019, which will be held in Asia for the first time, and it will be a great asset for us to continue to host this high level IRB-sanctioned competition," said JRFU Tournament Director, Junichi Inagaki.

"We learnt a lot from hosting last year's Sevens tournament and since then we have worked very closely with the IRB in preparation for this year's Tokyo Sevens. We wish from our heart that all the fans, players and everyone involved will enjoy the tournament."

This weekend also promises to be a major step along the route to growing Rugby in China as Guangzhou hosts the third leg of the inaugural IRB Women's Sevens World Series.

The move to host the event in China's third largest city is designed to jointly foster the Game and give structure to its growth in one of Rugby’s most exciting emerging markets.

As part of a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the IRB and Guangzhou in 2012, the Chinese authorities pledged their commitment to growing both men’s and women’s Rugby, particularly given the opportunities that now exist with the sport’s re-inclusion in the Olympic summer programme from 2016.

It also comes a year out from the debut of Rugby Sevens at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, which brings together the finest up and coming Sevens stars from six men's and six women's nations for a global celebration of world-class sport.

"With over 80 per cent of the world’s youth, the IRB has identified the Asia region as being a key growth area for Rugby," according to IRB Head of Development and Performance Mark Egan.

"This weekend's exciting Women's Sevens World Series is just another step forward in that regard. Guangzhou is set to become a centre of excellence and a genuine hub for the sport in China. I'm really looking forward to some excellent matches, especially with Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow just around the corner."

"The IRB has invested approximately £9 million into the development of Rugby in Asia between 2009 and 2012, a region where men’s and women’s Fifteens and Sevens is going from strength to strength," said Egan.