All Blacks Sevens to feature in 'Champion of Champions' tournament in Shanghai in October

The William Webb Ellis Trophy paid Shanghai a visit before the 2015 Rugby World Cup in the UK.
The William Webb Ellis Trophy paid Shanghai a visit before the 2015 Rugby World Cup in the UK. Photo credit: Getty

Teams from the Sevens World Series including New Zealand and Fiji will converge on Shanghai in October this year for the richest ever rugby Sevens tournament.

In a sign that China is putting more of an focus on growing rugby union, the "Champion of Champions" tournament will be a playoff between the top eight ranked teams from the 2016/17 World Series event. 

However, the China national team will also compete alongside the invited teams.

The tournament is funded and will be hosted by Alisports - the sports division of e-commerce giant Alibaba - which is attempting to lead the charge of putting rugby union on the map in China.

And it's hoped the likes of New Zealand, Fiji, South Africa and England will show their best rugby in order to get the Chinese public interested in the sport.

"On October 20 or late October, we will invite eight teams with the best records to Shanghai," said Alisports vice president Wei Quanming.

"This will be our first time hosting such a game. I think the eight countries will bring a sizable amount of fans from their home countries."

New Zealand lining up alongside South Africa and England at the Series decider back in May.
New Zealand lining up alongside South Africa and England at the Series decider back in May. Photo credit: Getty

Earlier in the year, when discussing the tournament, World Rugby chief Brett Gosper said it would feature the "highest ever prize money we have seen in Sevens".

Last year, Alisports invested over NZ$135 million over 10 years in rugby union with the aim of attracting a million new players within five years.

The tournament is part of a bigger goal, with China not only launching a professional 15-a-side league featuring foreign players as soon as next year but also hoping to host a Rugby World Cup in the future.

While China has less than 2,000 rugby players, Wei believes the sport will catch on and knows it is important to capitalise on the interest created by the 2019 World Cup and the 2020 Olympics, both to be held in Japan.

"People are still unfamiliar with the sport".

"For example, they have a hard time telling the difference between American Football and rugby. The two terms shares the same translation in Chinese. They are both gan lan qiu."

Newshub.

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