Unprecedented Rugby Sevens hosting interest boosts Olympic Games preparations

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March 3, 2014 (ISN) – The International Rugby Board has confirmed an unprecedented level of interest in hosting elite international Rugby Sevens events, underscoring the enormous global appeal of the newest Olympic sport.

  • 25 Unions interested in hosting IRB Sevens World Series
  • 12 Unions interested in hosting Rugby World Cup Sevens
  • Record interest underscores Sevens prestige ahead of Rio 2016
  • All continents represented in the submissions

As the expression of interest deadline closed on February 28, 25 Unions formally confirmed to the IRB their interest in hosting a round of the popular HSBC Sevens World Series from the 2015/16 season. Twelve of the Unions are also interested in hosting the showcase men’s and women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2018.

There has also been an increase in interest at national and local government level, which has made Sevens hosting more accessible in both established and developing Rugby markets.

IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “This unprecedented response truly reflects the enormous prestige and appeal of Rugby Sevens in the global sporting market place ahead of our Rio 2016 Olympic Games debut.”

“The submission features a blend of interest from every continent and includes existing and emerging Rugby markets. It reaffirms Rugby Sevens as a young, exciting and thriving sport that is reaching out, engaging and inspiring new audiences around the world.”

“International Rugby Sevens is truly competitive, showcasing great skill and speed to full, vibrant stadia and strong and ever-growing global broadcast audiences and that is why we believe that Rugby Sevens will be a great fit for the Olympic Games and also why the Olympic Games will be great for Rugby.”

“We look forward to collaborating with each interested party as we look ahead to the next phase of the process.”

The deadline for tender submissions for Unions interested in hosting Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 is December 5, 2014 with IRB Council selecting the winning bid at its May 2015 meeting. The deadline for formal tender submissions for hosting a Sevens World Series tournament is set for June 27, 2014 and the 2015/16 Series hosts will be selected by IRB EXCO in October 2014.

The dual process follows a detailed strategic review of Rugby World Cup Sevens and the Sevens World Series hosting models and key overall considerations include growing hosting and participation opportunities for the 119 IRB Member Unions, tournament format, increasing Sevens-related global commercial model values, and for the series specifically, the number of events in the calendar.

Editors’ notes:

The full list of Unions that have expressed an interest to tender for IRB Sevens World Series 2015/16 is: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, England, Fiji, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Kenya, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, USA, Wales.

The list of Unions that have expressed an interest to tender for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 is: England, Fiji, Hong Kong, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, USA, Wales.

Since the creation of the IRB Sevens World Series by the IRB in 1999, the grand-prix style event has been the stage for great entertainment, drama and incredible feats of skill with the likes of Kenya, Fiji, Samoa, Canada and Portugal mixing it with New Zealand, South Africa and England.

It has been a winning recipe for fans, broadcasters and sponsors and the 2012/13 HSBC Sevens World Series accumulated more than 4,500 hours of total airtime across 149 territories, a record television audience. Only eight years ago, that total airtime figure stood at just 300 hours.

Rugby World Cup Sevens has been a driving force for Sevens’ global outreach and the competition broke new ground in 2009 combining a 16-team women’s competition alongside the 24-team men’s competition, showcasing the increasing strength of women’s Sevens on the world stage.

It was a format that was successfully repeated in Moscow in 2013 with the IRB announcing last year that the next event would move to 2018 to sit within the middle of the Olympic cycle, providing the 40 participating teams with the optimum competition platform in the lead in to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

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