Notwithstanding financial pressures at the Australian Rugby Union, Super Rugby and Rugby Sevens are going from strength to strength and international popularity for each is growing. Now rugby will be included in the Rio 2016 Olympics as well as the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and the code is expecting a serious lift in exposure and popularity.
Super Rugby organiser Sanzar this month announced that a “preferred model” had been drawn up for the southern hemisphere rugby union competition to expand to 17 teams from 2016 through the addition of new clubs from Argentina and South Africa. It seems that the decision is in part at least related to the need to expand broadcast revenues. Sanzar’s current broadcast agreement is set to expire at the end of 2015, and the tournament, which currently contains five teams each from South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, was already expected to expand to include a sixth South African franchise, Port Elizabeth’s Southern Kings. Argentina has become increasingly visible in international rugby union in recent years, and the national team joined the Rugby Championship tournament – featuring Australia, New Zealand and South Africa – in 2012.
Rugby sevens - Glasgow 2014 has confirmed the match schedule for the Rugby Sevens competition at this summer’s Commonwealth Games. A total of 45 games will be contested across two days.
Reigning champions New Zealand, who have won all four Commonwealth gold medals to date, will face Canada in the opening match of the competition on Saturday morning July 26 while Delhi finalists Australia take on Sri Lanka.
Scotland, England and Wales kick off their campaigns later in the morning session against New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, respectively.
The draw has been made for the HSBC Sevens World Series core team qualifier to be played at the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2014, with the hosts facing sides from Europe, Africa and Oceania.
From the 2013/14 season a two-stage promotion and relegation process comes into effect for the World Series, with promotion to core team status for the 2014/15 campaign on offer to one of the 12 teams in the competitive qualifier draw in Hong Kong.
The first of the pools features two of the strongest sides in last year's qualifying tournaments, leading European qualifiers Russia and the highest-ranked African side in the draw, Zimbabwe. They are joined in Pool E by the first of the two South American qualifiers, Chile, and Barbados, the second-ranked side from the North American and Caribbean region.
Tournament hosts Hong Kong were drawn in Pool F and face matches against the second European side, Italy, African qualifier Tunisia and the second of the Oceania qualifiers, American Samoa. The other Asian heavyweight in the draw, Tokyo host nation Japan, starts top seed in Pool G and faces matches against Cook Islands, Uruguay and the top Caribbean nation, Trinidad & Tobago.
Draw at a glance
Pool E: Russia, Zimbabwe, Chile, Barbados
Pool F: Hong Kong, Italy, Tunisia, American Samoa
Pool G: Japan, Cook Islands, Uruguay, Trinidad & Tobago
These 12 regional qualifiers will battle for the one promotion place on offer in a competition played alongside the main 16-team World Series tournament at the Hong Kong Stadium.
The winner will take the place of the bottom-ranked of the 15 current core teams * after round nine of the World Series, the Marriott London Sevens on 10-11 May.
The new format is in line with the IRB Sevens Plan developed in partnership with the IRB's Member Unions and approved by the IRB Council and reflects the IRB's mission to deliver a pathway that ensures that all Member Unions have a transparent and merit-based opportunity to participate in the HSBC Sevens World Series.
* HSBC Sevens World Series 2013/14 core teams: Argentina, Australia, Canada, England, Fiji, France, Kenya, New Zealand, Portugal, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, USA, Wales
The International Rugby Board has announced details of the tender process for hosting the IRB Sevens World Series rounds from 2015/16 and the flagship Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018.
With interest expected to be unprecedented as Sevens continues to break into new markets and attract record attendance and viewing figures, member unions have been given until February 28, 2014 to formally express an interest to tender.
Increasingly, interest at national and local government level is making the hosting of Rugby tournaments more accessible in both established and developing Rugby markets, with National Olympic Committees also significantly investing in Rugby Sevens as an Olympic sport. The 2012/13 HSBC Sevens World Series confirms another record global audience, with a 5% overall increase on the strong figures of 2011/12. The 2012/13 HSBC Sevens World Series comprised nine tournaments in Australia (Gold Coast), Dubai, South Africa (Port Elizabeth), New Zealand (Wellington), USA (Las Vegas), Hong Kong, Japan (Tokyo), Scotland (Glasgow), England (London).
The grand prix-style, nine-round World Series accumulated a record 4,504 hours of total airtime across 149 territories.
The deadline for tender submissions for Unions interested in hosting Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 is December 5, 2014 with the 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 the IRB EXCO in October 2014.
Boosted by the news that they will secure an automatic spot at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Rugby Sevens event, Brazil’s top female Rugby players return to home soil for the Sao Paulo leg of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series determined to showcase the skill, speed and success to Brazilians.
Brazil sit joint eighth in the Series standings and head to Sao Paulo, the first IRB Sevens Series event to take place in the 2016 Olympic Games host nation, knowing that they have a great opportunity attract more players and fans to a sport that has witnessed a 25% increase in participation in two years.
HSBC backs global rugby sevens drive
International banking group HSBC, the naming sponsor of rugby union’s International Sevens Series, is backing the launch of a two-year grassroots programme targeting increased participation ahead of the sport’s debut at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
In partnership with Serevi Rugby, an organisation based in Seattle, Washington that works to aid the growth of rugby union worldwide, HSBC will seek to introduce thousands of youngsters to the sport, beginning with this week’s five-day HSBC Rugby Festivals in Brazil. The programme will then move to Hong Kong next month before heading to the United States and China.
A coaching session for 250 youngsters in Rio kicked off the programme and HSBC has made a commitment to the Brazil Rugby Union to return to the country during the two-year period to ensure the children continue their rugby education.
HSBC has sponsored rugby sevens’ premier competition since 2010 and was also the lead sponsor of the British and Irish Lions’ last two tours to South Africa in 2009 and Australia in 2013.
The current HSBC Sevens World Series comprises nine tournaments with 16 teams competing in each over two or three days. The 2012/13 Series attracted a new record global television audience – another record global audience, with a 5% overall increase on the strong figures of 2011/12 – with 4,504 hours shown by 38 broadcasters to 390 million homes across 149 territories. Over 600,000 fans were in attendance across the nine events. The 2012/13 HSBC Sevens World Series comprised nine tournaments in Australia (Gold Coast), Dubai, South Africa (Port Elizabeth), New Zealand (Wellington), USA (Las Vegas), Hong Kong, Japan (Tokyo), Scotland (Glasgow), England (London).
For Australia, seeking to get to Rio, the path will be:
- Automatic qualification for Rio 2016: Top four finish in 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series
- Second qualification opportunity: Teams in the Oceania region that finish outside of the top four of the 2014/15 HSBC World Series will compete in a regional tournament, with the winning side qualifying for Rio 2016
- The remaining teams that have not either finished in the top four of the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series and were unsuccessful in the Oceania region tournament will compete in a final World Olympic Qualifying tournament. The winning team qualifying for Rio 2016
- Automatic qualification for Rio 2016: Top four finish in 2014/15 IRB Women Sevens World Series
- Second qualification opportunity: Teams in the Oceania region that finish outside of the top four of the 2014/15 IRB Women Sevens World Series will compete in a regional tournament, with the winning side qualifying for Rio 2016
- The remaining teams that have not either finished in the top four of the 2014/15 IRB Women Sevens World Series and were unsuccessful in the Oceania region tournament will compete in a final World Olympic qualifying tournament. The winning team qualifying for Rio 2016
The Brazil men’s and women’s team will automatically qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympics Rugby Sevens events as host nation. The decision to automatically qualify the host nation in both the 12-team men’s and women’s competitions underscores the growing strength of Rugby in Brazil and the IRB’s commitment to further drive growth of the sport across a nation where Rugby participation has grown by more than 25 per cent since 2011.
Rugby 10s is coming
The soon to open Singapore Sports Hub will host new rugby concept the World Club 10s in June, a Singapore versus Malaysia football match in August and continental national team competition the AFF Suzuki Cup, which Singapore will co-host with Vietnam, at the end of the year. Singapore is also bidding to host a stop on the IRB (International Rugby Board) Sevens World Series and the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens, while SRU president Low Teo Ping said he is confident that the city state will become home to the Asian Dragons Super Rugby expansion franchise. The World Club 10s will be the first sports event at the new 55,000-seat National Stadium on June 21-22. The new annual event will feature top professional club rugby teams from around the world supported by amateur club tournaments, music and lifestyle attractions. With 10 players per team on a full sized pitch, 10s rugby seeks to blend the free flowing action of sevens with full-scale 15-a-side games.
IRB appoints Gilpin to head Rugby World Cup team
The International Rugby Board has appointed Alan Gilpin as head of Rugby World Cup, the organising body of international rugby union’s showpiece event. Gilpin begins the role in May as preparations for the 2015 tournament in England gather pace. He replaces Kit McConnell, who joined the IOC as sports director at the start of the year. In his previous role at the Sodexo and Mike Burton Group joint venture, Gilpin oversaw the hospitality programme for the London 2012 Olympic Games and has been in the process of delivering those services at Rugby World Cup 2015 as chief commercial officer for Rugby Travel & Hospitality Limited and Prestige Ticketing & Hospitality Limited.
Prior to the London 2012 role, Gilpin spent nine years with the IMG agency, where he was responsible for commercial right negotiations across the previous three editions of the Rugby World Cup.
The Australian Rugby Union recently announced that global logistics firm TNT Express has extended its decade-long partnership with Australian Rugby Union for another three years until the end of 2016.
Jockey gives support to All Blacks
Men’s underwear brand Jockey has reached a three-year deal to become an official partner of New Zealand’s national rugby union teams. Under the agreement, Jockey becomes the off-field underwear sponsor of the All Blacks and All Blacks Sevens teams. To launch the partnership, New Zealand’s players are featured in an integrated marketing campaign modelling Jockey products.
Additionally, New Zealand fly-half Dan Carter will become as global ambassador for Jockey International following a 10-year association with the company in New Zealand.
Great timing for the All Blacks and All Black Sevens.
KFC is a sponsor
Global fast-food restaurant chain KFC has agreed to sponsor the five New Zealand-based franchises taking part in this year’s Super Rugby competition, which kicks off its 2014 edition on 15 February.
KFC will sponsor the Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders and Highlanders, with the teams believing an integrated sponsorship approach can help to drive interest in Super Rugby among the youth market.