Dr Aili Zhu from CUK helps a Shandong government official to meetings in London.

Shandong Sports Government

Sport in China is run predominantly by the Chinese government. There is a strong focus on sports in which they believe they can confidently compete in on the world stage, such as the Olympic Games.

CUK was asked to work with Shandong Sports Government to help develop their provincial Rugby 7s team. The teams (both men’s and women’s) were ranked number 5 in China and Shandong wanted to improve on this.

CUK employed the best rugby coaches that were available in China; a pre requisite of Shandong Government because their requirement was for the best, not the cheapest – a common approach in China.

Andy Lindley, from Leeds Rhinos Super League Club and Chris Richards, former Royal Marine PTI and Director of Rugby at Somerset Vikings Rugby League, were commissioned to travel to Shandong for two months. On arrival the duo immediately noted that the existing coaches were not adopting modern techniques in player development.

Diet, gym and physical fitness and strength, as well as basic fundamentals of rugby all came under close scrutiny and a programme was quickly put in place to implement the changes required to achieve notable improvements in performance.

Most of the players had been selected from other sports, chosen for their strengths in other disciplines, such as fast runners, strong athletes, hand/eye co-ordinated players etc. A cohesive plan for player development was identified by Andy and Chris as being critical to success.  On the pitch they managed the development of the team members, teaching them modern, tactical rugby and passing on advice from high-level coaches, whilst off the field CUK managed the relationship at the Government head offices.

The result after three months, was that Shandong participated in the China National games, where both the Men’s and Women’s teams emerged victorious, beating every other provincial opponent in China to take home gold medals.

Additionally, Central Government recognising the teams’ achievements, built a brand new stadium in Shandong which was to become the training ground for the National team to prepare for the Rio Olympics in 2016.

From this firm foundation, CUK  has established  a long-standing and very strong relationship with Shandong. This has led to other business opportunities in other sectors including the twinning of agriculture-based projects with the UK. Delegations from Shandong Government have visited us here and we have now successfully built solid connections with Local Government where we can “call in for a cup of tea“ any time we are in town.