The UIC Rugby Team went to Newcastle in the UK for a sports and cultural exchange from 30 September to 6 October. Invited by Northumbria University, UIC was selected by the Federation of University Sport of China to host the exchange, as a way to promote sports collaboration between Chinese and UK schools, as well as strengthening the youth networking between the two countries.

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Group photo of the participants


Representing China’s athletes

The UIC Rugby Team was established in 2007. In recent years, the team has participated in the Chinese college seven-a-side rugby tournament and has achieved outstanding results.

The Chinese delegation consisted of 27 people, headed by the vice chairman of the China School Sports Federation and the executive director of the Federation of University Sport of China, Mr Hua Aijun. Director of UIC’s Whole Person Education Office (WPEO), Prof Guo Haipeng, served as the deputy head of the representatives.

Arriving at Northumbria University

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Visiting the museum

Coordinator of WPEO’s Physical Education Centre, Dr Shi Lei, served as the team leader. Coordinator of WPEO’s Adventure Education Centre, Prof Xu Fanglong, served as the deputy leader, Senior Lecturer Gao Peng as the coach, and 18 members of the UIC Rugby Team went to the UK as part of the exchange.

During the week-long visit, the Chinese team conducted a seven-a-side rugby friendly match as well as participating in training, listening to lectures, visiting schools and museums.

Visiting Newcastle Falcons rugby club


Training together

On the morning of 1 October, the UIC representatives visited Northumbria University. Over the next two days, Chinese staff and students participated in many lectures and trainings about seven-a-side rugby. In this exchange, UIC staff and students learned a variety of sports related courses. Among them, the British staff started with the basics of nutrition, and provided practical as well as professional suggestions for the training of the players in different situations.

Professor Guo Haipeng presenting gifts to Pro Vice-Chancellor (International) of Northumbria University, Jon Reast

In the training ground, the UIC team representatives also conducted systematic strategies amd communication, including speed, rehabilitation, and speed training.  In this rare opportunity for discussion, the representatives of both sides spoke freely and demonstrated good sportsmanship, respect and tolerance for different cultures.

Dinner group photo


Fresh rugby style

 UIC Year 3 Environmental Science student, Yin Qifan, said "The importance of the British rugby culture are very different from that of China.

“We visited the sports science laboratory of Northumbria University and learned a lot of efficient sports knowledge. We also went to training grounds including those of Premiership Rugby, and watched a very professional-level competition, which gave me a very big shock.

“With skillful players working together, I feel the gap, but it motivated me to learn various sports rehabilitation and sports proficiency to make my training more efficient and safe." 

British teachers explaining about nutrition

British coaches explaining related courses

Rugby training

Fresh graduate of the Government and International Relations Programme, Du Ruizheng, said "This rugby exchange event allows us to understand and realise the gap between China and the country where rugby originated.

“We appreciate the guidance and advice provided by the qualifies professionals at Northumbria University, which made us exposed to a fresh rugby style and physical training methods.

“We have a better understanding of the tenacious spirit of this game, and enhance the unity and trust between our players. In addition, the experience during the UK also allows us to fully feel the local culture."

Coach of the UIC Rugby Team Mr Gao Peng explained that the core of the seven-a-side rugby sport is integrity, passion, teamwork, respect, and discipline. Mr Gao continued, “The UIC Rugby Team members are honoured to be the athlete representatives of this exchange. They gained friendship while improving their skills. We look forward to their greater progress and better achievements in the future.”

Q&A session

Fruitful exchange

On the afternoon of 2 October, Mr Hua Aijun and Prof Guo Haipeng held talks with Pro Vice-Chancellor (International) of Northumbria University, Prof Jon Reast.

During the talks, the two sides exchanged views on university sports concepts, curriculum, development, and competitions, and hoped that the two sides would strengthen cooperation in the field of university sports.

Playing a game of rugby

After the talks, the Chinese delegation was invited to attend the welcome banquet held by the British side. Prof Jon Reast said that Northumbria University was honoured to partner up with the Federation of University Sport of China in promoting this exchange activity for the college athletes. It is expected that the two sides will continue to cooperate in the future.

Taking photos with the British coach

UIC is the first university in mainland China to innovate and implement the liberal arts education and the international education model. Sports culture is one of the seven experiential learning modules of UIC’s Whole Person Education, also in line with the theme of this exchange.

Reporters: Marissa Furney, Samuel Burgess
Photographers: Wang Yongqing, UIC Rugby Team
Edittors: Deen He, Étienne Fermie
(from MPRO)