Social Skills is a monthly column featuring community groups where you can meet new people through exercise or other enjoyable activities.
Legend has it that during a football game at England’s Rugby School in 1823, a 16-year-old boy named William Webb Ellis, ignoring the rules, snatched up the ball and began running towards the opponent’s goal. That, as the story goes, is how rugby came into being. An intense sport originated and developed in the United Kingdom and played mostly by its former colonies and European countries, it is vibrant, athletic and engaging.
Rugby was properly introduced to China in 1997, the year the nation became affiliated with the International Rugby Board. Though not overly popular, there are grassroots groups throughout the country.
The Guangzhou Rams dates its history all the way back to the beginning. Started in 1997, members estimate that they are the largest rugby club in China. Winners of the South China Tournament two out of the four times it has been held, they were active in the first All-China Cup, which saw 11 teams from major Chinese cities competing against each other.
The club focuses on four areas. Its backbone is contact rugby, with both male and female teams playing a season that runs from September to June throughout China. Touch rugby is the most popular part of the club; a less violent version, any interested individual is welcome to play on Wednesdays from 7-9pm at the Nike Football Pitch of Tianhe Sport Center.
There is also a junior rugby section supported by the AFL’s Auskick program and a free boot camp every Tuesday from 7-8pm on Haixinsha Island.
Daniel Kolek, a member of the club, is hoping that rugby’s re-inclusion in the Olympics this summer will spur more new recruits: “We are hoping to use this opportunity to open up our club to the local community to spread this beautiful game across China and, more specifically, Guangzhou.”
Follow the Guangzhou Rams’s official Wechat account (ID: gzrams) and learn more about the club’s events. Membership starts from RMB350. (www.guangzhourugby.com)
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