The History of Sport Played in China's Treaty Ports
The Treaty Port of Shanghai was established in 1843. As the ‘Model Settlement’ developed and the population increased thoughts inevitably turned to recreation. A race course was built almost immediately as were other essentials such as the club and a church. Cricket was first played in Shanghai in 1854. Ten years later the Shanghai Cricket Club was well enough established to have run up a large debt threatening its existence. There are records of a second cricket team in Shanghai at this time called the Shanghai Zoroastrian Cricket Club suggesting that Parsee Indians had their own team. A rowing club was founded in 1867 and in the same year the first Shanghai Football Club took the field, playing a variation of the game that was more like ‘rugby’ than ‘soccer’ but in reality was a hybrid of both forms.
The path to the creation of the Shanghai Rugby Football Club was winding. Rugby football and association football were played in each of the four different Shanghai Football Clubs established in 1867, 1881, 1889 and 1892. In 1904, the rugby players broke away from the fourth Shanghai Football Club and so at last a standalone rugby club was formed which remained in existence until 1950. Forty-five years later, foreigners once again established a rugby club in Shanghai.
In these pages you will find the definitive history of rugby in Shanghai. The facts behind the story from 1867 to 2013 are documented in the appendices in extraordinary detail. They include a list of more than 1,500 games, the names of thousands of players, and scores of different teams.
The narrative condenses this detail down to tell the story of how it all happened. It includes day to day stories of old Shanghai’s privileged elite and of the police, soldiers and sailors who patrolled and defended it. You will discover their heroism, sense of duty and loyalty to their country, their class and their team. On the darker side, there are stories of bankruptcy, murder, piracy, suicide, torture, and even a few sex scandals. Overlaying all of this was the commitment and dedication of men to keep the sport of rugby going so that they could participate in the sport that they loved. This book documents their perseverance and legacy. I feel privileged to have been the person to record it.