China apparently won't teach soldiers how to play rugby

WELLINGTON (February 1, 2000 9:54 p.m. EST

China seems to have dropped plans to teach 2.5 million soldiers how to play rugby, according to New Zealand army chief Major General Maurice Dodson.

A New Zealand army officer in China last year was approached by the People's Liberation Army for help in providing rugby coaches.

When asked how many coaches they wanted, the PLA replied 4,000, the Dominion newspaper said Wednesday.

"He gasped and said we couldn't do that," Dodson said.

Dodson, who has just returned from China, said he tried to find out what had happened to the rugby plan.

"We asked at one point what they were doing about rugby and I got the impression that whoever was trying to make it a big thing had gone off the boil on it," he said.

"I wasn't actually pushing it because I didn't want to get a request for about 4,000 rugby coaches."