India has been targeted as the next frontier to conquer by George Simpkin, the man who saw his rugby missionary work in China over the past five years finally bear fruit at the Hong Kong Football Club yesterday. As China were welcomed into the world rugby fraternity, it was revealed that India will be the next goal in the push to popularise the game worldwide. Simpkin, who is the technical director of the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union and the chief architect behind China's entry into the International Rugby Football Board, says that moves to promote the game in India were already 'quite a long way down the line'. 'A major effort is going on to develop rugby in India . . . it is being orchestrated from here,' Simpkin told Sports Post. IRB chairman Vernon Pugh yesterday welcomed China as the 76th member of the world governing body at a brief ceremony attended by Li Gaochao, secretary general of the Beijing-based Chinese Rugby Football Association (CRFA), and other local rugby dignitaries. 'We now have all the largest countries in the world in the IRB family,' said Pugh at the historic occasion where he presented Li with a certificate of membership. In terms of population, China is certainly the largest in that family. But India is a close second. 'India are expected to overhaul China soon as the world's most populated country. And if the IRB are serious about spreading the gospel of rugby around the world, they should take a serious look at India,' said Simpkin. The IRB yesterday promised to give financial and other support to help China in its progress. 'They will have to apply like everyone else. But I don't see any problems in providing them with financial as well as other technical support like coaching etc,' said Pugh. The Welshman, who last year predicted that China and the USA would be the future superpowers in the game by the next millennium, said he expected China to play in a World Cup final by 2020. 'The US are something of a sleeping giant. But I can't see China being that . . . I can see China embracing the game and becoming a force fairly quickly,' said Pugh. Li, the secretary-general of the CRFA, acknowledged the assistance given by the local Union: 'We owe the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union a lot for the progress we have made today.' Li said there were now 33 teams in China. He predicted that in the next decade, there would be over a million people playing the game on the mainland. He added: 'One of our concerns is to raise the standard of play through better coaching and to see that the association gets more government support.' Although rugby is a non-Olympic sport, the Chinese Olympic Committee have recognised the CRFA. Pugh said his only word of advice for China was to nurture the game in the schools. 'If they can get the game introduced in their schools and children play the game at an early age . . . it will help.' He also revealed that an exhibition match in China involving a 'high-profile' international side was possible in the near future. HKRFU chairman Peter Duncan, meanwhile, said the links between China and Hong Kong would become even closer after the handover. 'The links between our two unions will be closer which will benefit the development of the game in both Hong Kong and China,' said Duncan. As a consequence of China's admission to the IRB, the rugby union located in Taiwan and formerly known as the Republic of China will retain its IRB membership under the new name of Chinese Taipei RFU.