In 2016, 22 countries became members or associate members of the Asian Rugby Association. Recently, Asian Rugby has seen a rapid increase in rugby participation in nascent rugby nations at the grassroots and professional levels. Here are just a few examples of Asian countries where rugby is booming. While no Asian country has attracted as many players from rugby’s core nations as England or South Africa, the total number of registered players in Asia looks good.
With Japan as the host and rugby’s dominant power in the region, China is keen to challenge its position: rugby union participation has grown by 40% over the past years to 76,000 players. As the game of rugby seeks to increase its growth worldwide, Asia is becoming an increasingly important part of the sport’s future. As the number of participants increases and Asian teams continues to improve their performance on the world stage, the popularity of rugby will naturally rise. Sports activity in Asia is currently low, but with Japan hosting Asia’s first Rugby World Cup in 2019, the opportunities to reach more people than ever are tremendous.
Ada Milby believes that World Rugby has “the opportunity to make rugby the way we want it, a sport for all – we have doubled the number of women in World Rugbys EXCO, we have more representatives on committees.” Ada Milby also noted the commercial success of the Rugby World Cup in Japan. Asahi’s recently announced sponsorship of the RWC 2023 demonstrated the global reach of rugby, and the promise of rugby in Asia, home to 60% of the world’s population, is essential. During the last RWC cycle – the four years between England 2015 and the 2019 Rugby World Cup – the number of women’s U18 national teams in Asia has increased by 50%.
Rugby Impact Beyond programs is designed to inspire this new generation of rugby fanatics in Asia and beyond to build a lasting legacy for the tournament. The 2019 Rugby World Cup Asia has indeed been a game-changer on the world’s most populous continent. With solid national competitions that regularly attract top players from all over the world and a national team that has competed in every Rugby World Cup, Japan has made Japan one of the most successful second-tier nations in rugby.
Forrest and New League Rugby head Matt Hodgson, a former Western Power player, captain and member of the Australian national team, have hired top international players to ensure high-quality rugby for the program. In addition to Western Power and the Tigers, teams from Singapore, Malaysia and the rugby-loving island nations of Fiji and Samoa will also be involved. The Hong Kong National Rugby Team has recently achieved good results in the Asian Games, Asian Rugby Championships.
33 Asian countries play rugby under the auspices of the IRB (World Rugby). A website contains rugby information, clubs, results, and general information about Asian rugby for the 33 Asian countries. The free website was created to address the lack of information provided by Rugby Asia about Rugby Asia.