China's rugby hopefuls get lesson from the best
Updated: 2014-11-28 19:16
By Guan Xiaomeng(chinadaily.com.cn)
China's would-be rugby union Olympians received tips and advice from the world's top sevens team when members of New Zealand's All Blacks Sevens, already among the medal favorites for the 2016 Rio Games, arrived in Beijing on Wednesday.
All Blacks Patrick Tuipulotu, left, Aaron Cruden and T J Perenara pictured in front of Beijing's National Stadium, known as the "Bird's Nest", on Thursday. [Provided for chinadaily.com.cn]
Flyhalf Aaron Cruden was delighted to see the popularity of his sport at the China Agricultural University (CAU), home to the country's first sevens squad, and said he hoped to have the chance to compete against his Chinese counterparts in Brazil in a couple of years' time.
An All Blacks No 8 team jersey – the number eight being regarded as particularly lucky by Chinese - was presented to President Xi Jinping during his visit to New Zealand earlier in November and Cruden said: "The cooperation between the two countries is inspiring. I feel a heavy weight on my shoulders to promote my sport…it is good to see it growing China".
Cruden, who was joined on the visit by fellow All Blacks Patrick Tuipulotu and T J Perenara, said rugby players are courteous and refined off court although their sport is a tough, physical one.
Rugby is to New Zealand what table tennis is to China – a national sport. The All Blacks' legacy stretches back 130 years and has a winning record that is the envy of all other national sport teams with a success rate of more than 76 percent.
Together with Tuipulotu and Perenara, Cruden was welcomed by team CAU with a haka, a traditional ancestral war cry, dance or challenge of the country's native Māori people. The challenge has become an All Blacks icon before internationals and has also been adopted by other New Zealand national sports teams.
Halfback Perenara suggested the students should spread their legs wide when performing the haka before the trio took a training session with the young Chinese players.
Founding its rugby club only in 1990, China Agricultural University hopes to represent China in world tournaments within years.
Lu Xiaohui, a former member of team CAU, led China's women to a first international title when they won a historic gold medal in sevens at the Incheon Asian Games in September.