CHINA’S ambitious sporting plans will see them bid to host a Rugby World Cup ‘sooner rather than later’ according to World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper.

The earliest World Cup they could hope to host would be the 2027 edition as bidding for the 2023 one is closed with Ireland, France and South Africa vying to win the right to host it.

China is already keen to host the football version as its president Xi Jinping is a fervent fan of the sport with the 2030 edition probably the likeliest one to bid for due to FIFA’s rotation policy and Qatar hosting the 2022 version.

Gosper, speaking at the World Rugby conference, said the Chinese Government liked rugby as it is a team sport which to them is character building for those who play it and that is a characteristic they want to encourage in the people.

“They would very much like a world series sevens event, probably in Shanghai,” said the 57-year-old Australian.

“Then one day sooner rather than later they would like to have a World Cup.

“That is how ambitious they are,” added Gosper.

Gosper, who earlier had given the thumbs up to Japan’s progress as they prepare to host the first Rugby World Cup to be held in Asia in 2019, said the recent US$100 million investment in the currently low-profile sport — whose Chinese name translates literally as ‘English-style olive ball’ — by e-commerce giant Alibaba had been the shot in the arm rugby required there.