China could join the international rugby fold as soon as October this year, according to International Rugby Board (IRB) chairman Vernon Pugh. Pugh, who yesterday met with Wei Jizhong, secretary-general of the Chinese Olympic Committee, said if the Chinese formed their own national union by September, they would be admitted to the IRB. 'In October, the IRB hold their general meeting,' said Pugh. 'If China formed their own union by then, we would be pleased to take China in.' Wei stopped in Hong Kong yesterday on his way to a volleyball function in Australia. He was the guest of the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) and attended the first day of the Sevens yesterday. Wei said he would do whatever he could to make sure China has a national union by September. 'We want IRB affiliation for China,' said Wei. 'When I talked about this to Mr Pugh, the answer was very positive. But first China must have its own rugby federation and I will try my best to see that this is done by September.' The HKRFU has been trying for years to expedite the formation of a Chinese Rugby Union, but has been hampered by a lack of organisation on the mainland's part. Having Wei on its side, the HKRFU can feel confident that genuine efforts will be made to help Chinese rugby. If rugby succeeds in China, the sport in Hong Kong will also benefit post-1997. Stuart Leckie, chairman of the HKRFU, said: 'We wanted Mr Wei to come down and have a look at the Sevens for himself. He is in a powerful position in the Chinese Olympic Committee and we hope that in two years time, when Hong Kong is a part of China, the Chinese will be able to take part in the Hong Kong Sevens.' Wei also suggested China may attempt to compete in the qualifiers for the 1999 Rugby World Cup in Wales. That means, they would have to compete in the 1998 Asian Rugby Tournament. Pugh said that if China's union materialised in September, the mainland would be able to play in the World Cup.