This weekend will see the Guangzhou Rams and Shanghai Silver Dragons face off for the China Cup, awarded annually to the champion of China's extensive amateur rugby league. This will be a rematch of the 2016 China Cup finals where Shanghai emerged with a 12-5 win earned in the midst of a torrential downpour.
Although teams from over 10 Chinese cities fielded a team to compete for the cup, only Shanghai and Guangzhou are left standing in the playoffs. Shanghai recently notched a first place victory in the Xiamen 10s, a highly regarded stop on the Chinese tournament circuit and look to continue their late-season tear by defending their China Cup title in hostile Ram territory.
Shanghai is fresh of a big win in Xiamen
This year the final will be played in the Pearl River Delta and Guangzhou will have the advantage of defending their home turf. The already spirited Rams will be especially keen to win a China Cup at home in what is their 20th season of continuous operation.
Rams prop and former Burundi Rugby Prospect Kevin Kline looks to offload against Fuzhou in league play
Both teams are firing on all cylinders and running full steam ahead after amassing undefeated seasons in league play in their respective divisions meaning this weekend's already intriguing rumble will resemble a head-on collision between two runaway freight trains rather than a rugby match.
Kickoff for the championship game is at 2pm in Tonghe, with a showcase from the Rams junior club occurring at 1pm. There is no admission fee for the public and free buses will be leaving from Hooley's to take revelers to the pitch.
Hooley's, the usual site for the spate of bad decisions that usually alight after a Rams home game is otherwise predisposed with a large concert on Saturday night. Thus, the post game debauchery will take place at The Brew JSL despite what the promotional material the Rams are distributing says. After so many tackles, concussions and Carlsberg, we will cut their disjointed PR efforts a bit of slack.
Fans of both teams are encouraged to attend the after party. For more information on the game, contact Rams social captain Alvaro via WeChat (ID: alvaro_cosin).
And for those in Shanghai, remember that tickets are on sale NOW for this year’s Heineken Gala Rugby Dinner, which boasts keynote speakers Andrew Mehrtens, a former All Black, and Tom Smith, of the British and Irish Lions. There will also be presentations by former Springboks Bob Skinstad and John Allan, who are returning from last year’s gala (you can read interviews with those two here and here).