World Rugby’s online game Rugby7Stars has been given a post-Rio upgrade with the stars of women’s sevens and multiple language options adding to fan experience.

The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2016-17 kicks off in Dubai on Thursday (women’s) and Friday (men’s), and with rugby estimated to have attracted a minimum of 16.8 million new fans to the sport (led by the 18-24 age group) following a game-changing debut at Rio 2016, anticipation and excitement has never been higher ahead of a new season.

Staying on the game-changing theme, the re-launched and free-to-play Rugby7Stars will be the first fantasy game to combine both men’s and women’s competitions and is aimed to further fan engagement in a sport that promotes fan-experience and interaction.

Available to play on and developed by leading digital fan interaction technology company Monterosa, Rugby7Stars draws on the nostalgia of card-trading games and live fantasy in a new way in addition to telling the rugby sevens story to new fans.

The game is based on a card trading format and every player in the men’s and women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series has a card that lists their attributes. Fans use the cards to play head-to–head games against one another and then win player cards to take into the live tournaments and play live fantasy sevens.

New developments include:

  • The stars of women’s sevens join the men in the 2016-17 game
  • The game is also now available in Japanese, French and Spanish for the new season
  • Addition of mini-leagues to enable fans to compete directly with friends and colleagues
  • Fans are able to live sub players during and between games to maximise their ability to score fantasy points

World Rugby Head of Commercial, Broadcast and Marketing Murray Barnett said: “As a governing body we are very aware of the need to reach new fans and entertain existing ones. We are delighted to be pioneering this by working with Monterosa to engage with rugby sevens fans across the globe. Introducing the excitement of the women’s game to Rugby7Stars can only help the sport go from strength to strength.”

HSBC Global Head of Sponsorship and Events, Giles Morgan said: “We have seen the impact of the Rio 2016 Games on the sport of sevens, and initiatives such as Rugby7Stars enable new fans who are just starting to get excited by the sport to learn more and continue their journey. The combining of the women’s series is a bit step forward as we look to promote the game of sevens to all sexes, and generations.”

Monterosa Director of Sport, Ben Barker said: “Rugby7Stars is a great game to play. We have delivered a fan interaction solution for World Rugby that we want to exceed fans’ expectations and provide a really enjoyable experience. By adding the women’s game alongside new languages brings a totally fresh and contemporary feel and we are looking forward to seeing huge numbers playing along.”