FIT and CRFA in talks to expand Touch in China

Sept. 13, 2022 @ 20:00 UTC

FIT has announced the beginning of a new collaboration with the CRFA that will help grow Touch in the world’s most populous nation.

The collaboration follows the announcement in July 2021 that China Touch Association is now an official body under the Chinese Rugby Football Association (CRFA).

At the time, FIT Director Topy Xu said, “The CRFA announcement is big news for Touch in China because it means that the sport can now be played in schools throughout the country.”

“It also means that any Sevens players who miss selection may try out for Touch. This situation will help China Touch grow its pool of elite players, as many Sevens players are almost fully professional. This level of athlete will potentially make Chinese teams more competitive at major global Touch tournaments such as Asian and World Cups.”

The collaboration between FIT and CRFA also has the potential to have massive ramifications for the growth of Touch in China, especially in schools and universities. Adrian An from CRFA said, “It’s early days, and both parties met online to go through some talking points, and no concrete agreements are in place yet.

“CRFA would like to get support from FIT for referees, coaches, the supply of materials such as official match balls, and other support if possible.”

He added, “Any arrangements with FIT will make it easier to promote Touch across the provinces in China.”

FIT Director Peter Topp agreed that the meeting is the first in several steps toward introducing FIT rules, coaching and referee support and formal recognition in China.

“FIT anticipates supporting the introduction of Touch into schools and other educational institutions,” Peter added. “FIT would provide training and education for coaches and referees and develop sustainable instructors for both programs. This would create an enormous benefit for CRFA and FIT.”

FIT anticipates that any agreement with CRFA will provide a substantial local touch playing base from which China could develop an effective international program. The inclusion of Touch in schools is a key to the ongoing expansion of the sport, Peter noted.

While there is no data yet on how many athletes play rugby and Touch in China, Adrian confirmed, “Many rugby players are playing it as a training tool or after their retirement. Retired rugby players play Touch as a social event.”

Big plans for China

In the future, is it possible this is the first step in China being World champs in Touch? FIT’s Peter Topp says, “We anticipate that China will rise to be one of the more competitive nations at the World Cup with appropriate support.

“While Australia and New Zealand lead the world currently, there is plenty of opportunity through a large playing base for China to be a world leader.”

Whether Touch could be a pathway into an elite sport for a Chinese athlete as it has been with some of Olympic Rugby 7’s players, Adrian An is circumspect. “Of course, we are looking forward to this opportunity.”

Peter Topp sums up, “FIT is delighted by the opportunity to expand the sport into such a large market like China. Given the improvement of China at the international level, many nations will need to lift their playing and coaching standard.”

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