University of Portsmouth Rugby Club compete in China

Portsmouth return triumphant from China in 4th UK-China University Sports Week

The men’s rugby team spent a week in Xian in a visit that strengthened Portsmouth’s links with China


Student rugby players from the University of Portsmouth (UoP) visited Xian from 1st – 10th September for the 4th China-UK University Sports Week. The event was an initiative of the Federation of University Sport of China and the British Council. The event saw a series of 7’s games against Chinese university rugby teams and a number of student networking events. The aim is to deepen the collaboration between British and Chinese universities through sport.

Universities from Portsmouth, Cambridge and Northumbria were chosen to represent the UK in the tournament. Portsmouth performed brilliantly, winning their tournament. The opening ceremony which was held at Northwestern Polytechnic University, was watched by over 3,000 and shown on Chinese TV. Xian, where the students visited, is a city of 12 million people and the start of the old Silk Road. The team played against Cambridge, Northwestern Polytechnical, Xiamen  and Beijing universities.


What was the purpose of the event?

The event was a fantastic opportunity for the students to experience Chinese culture with visits to the Terra Cotta Warriors. The students also visited Maotengkong Primary School and Shaanxi University of Chinese Medicine. They also attended a number of formal dinners and receptions held by a variety of hosts. Students lead coaching sessions for Chinese rugby players and took part in seminars discussing the different ways in which rugby is developed in the UK and China.

As part of the UoP Global engagement strategy this event gave students the chance to experience first-hand an international super city and in turn access to key partners and networks.

Paul Tilley, Head of Sport and Recreation at UoP, said:

‘’Portsmouth was honoured to be invited by the British Council and the Chinese Embassy to take part in this event.  Portsmouth’s achievements as an ambitious university with an excellent reputation for sport and a global outlook are being noticed. The visit was an excellent chance for our students to enjoy themselves in a totally different culture, make new friends, and be ambassadors for the UK.  It will also strengthen the relations we already have with the British Council, Chinese Embassy and with Chinese partner institutions. International links like these provide invaluable opportunities for our students and help develop our global partnerships.”

Student Sam Balkham said:

‘’The trip was more than I hoped for. The experience of visiting such a unique part of China was amazing. Immersing ourselves in their culture was something I will never forgot. The hospitality of our hosts was first class and the standard of rugby really good. I would recommend any student to take up the opportunity to travel abroad whilst at University. Especially on trips as well organised as this by our university.’’

What’s next?

Following on from the visit, Nick Parker – Head Rugby Coach at UoP will work with the British Council on further rugby development projects. 30 Chinese female rugby players are also due to visit Portsmouth in September 2019. The University of Portsmouth hosted the Minister Counsellor for Education from the Embassy of the Peoples Republic China last week where a variety of sports related courses and opportunities were discussed.


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