Rugby Sevens a step closer to cracking US market
Rugby union is desperate to crack the USA market, and clearly rugby sevens is headed in the right direction.
As the dust settles on the recent Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco, host broadcaster NBC revealed that it was the USA’s most-watched rugby event ever.
Over nine million viewers tuned in as New Zealand claimed both the men’s and women’s titles at AT&T Park.
An additional 100,000 raucous fans packed into the iconic baseball stadium over three days to witness the action first-hand.
The USA is no stranger to hosting first-class rugby sevens either.
The Las Vegas Sevens has become a staple of the World Rugby Sevens Series since 2014 and is renowned for its party atmosphere.
“These record viewing figures for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 in the USA are a major endorsement of a sport that is rapidly converting new fans in one of the world’s most competitive sports markets,” World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said.
Rugby was reintroduced to the Olympic programme at Rio 2016 after a 92-year hiatus.
However it was an Olympic debut for the shortened, seven-a-side version of the sport.
Rugby sevens was chosen due to it’s exciting, fast-paced nature as well as its gender equality and global accessibility.
It is not uncommon to see Kenya, Papua New Guinea and Uganda compete alongside traditional rugby powerhouses South Africa, England and New Zealand.
Fiji became the first Pacific Island nation to win an Olympic gold medal after their demolition of Great Britain in the Rio 2016 men’s final.
Australia claimed the women’s Olympic title with a thrilling victory over Antipodean neighbours New Zealand.
Rugby sevens team takes first ever gold for Fiji
Rugby sevens team takes first ever gold for FijiFiji defeats Great Britain 43-7 in the men's rugby seven final to take gold and claim the country's first ever Olympic medal.
Rugby ramping up in Japan
Rugby at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is expected is expected to raise the bar again.
Japan already enjoys a healthy tradition in the 15-a-side version of the sport.
At the 2015 Rugby World Cup a domestic audience of 25 million (nearly 20% of the population) tuned in to watch their team beat Samoa.
Japan will also become the first Asian country to host the Rugby World Cup in 2019, meaning rugby will be at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
Rugby sevens will be played in the first week of the Olympics in Tokyo, but it will be the women that take centre stage.
In a reverse of the Rio 2016 format, the men’s tournament will be played over the first three days, while the women’s draw will take place over the final three days, meaning medals will be decided on the iconic ‘Super Saturday’.