Rugby gains popularity in South China's Guangxi

2020-10-24 03:36:12 GMT2020-10-24 11:36:12(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

NANNING, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- When Chen Hongzhang, a college student in capital city Nanning of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, encountered rugby, he had no idea the then hardly known sport there could play such a great part in his life.

Though rugby has been accepted and played in big Chinese cities like Beijing and Shanghai earlier, it got little attention in less developed southern and western areas, said Liao Ziyun, founder of Guangxi Xiehu Rugby club.

Chen described himself as "a stay-at-dorm nerd" who addicted to PC games before a roommate introduced rugby to him.

"I then joined the college's rugby club and found it quite interesting," said the 21-year-old who gradually deemed as talented in playing rugby and built a reputation on the city's rugby community.

As the rest of his classmates were busy preparing for job interviews or postgraduate entrance exams, Chen already got a job before graduation in Liao's rugby club as a player. "The sport awakened me to a different possibility," said Chen.

Between training sessions, players like Chen would coach starters in the rugby salons held by Liao every weekend in hopes of promoting the sport.

He Guowei, 38, met Chen at a salon and began to love the sport. Working as a soccer referee during spare time, the sports enthusiast found the touch rugby he experienced is quite different with his previous imagination.

"Instead of being aggressive, we hardly ran foul of each other when playing rugby and I believe the sport barely has any age limits," said He.

"I got to know rugby in Shanghai in 2012 and soon fell completely into it. Then I determined to promote it in my hometown," said Liao who formed the Xiehu Rugby Club in November, 2017.

Liao recalled it as a real tough start because "virtually nobody saw the promise of the sport here."

Liao began to continuously provide free rugby trainings and promoted it in various of organizations including schools and sports agencies.

Liao's efforts have seen results. For the past decade, the autonomous region witnessed the foundation of 14 rugby teams, as well as youth teams and training bases. The capital city established the non-profit rugby association in October, 2019 and Liao has served as the president.

Those teams already participated in some international events and got awards.

"People are gradually realizing that the Guangxi's rugby teams could also make a mark. That's what I really proud of," said Liao. Enditem