Rugby World Cup; Sevens in the US

The Rugby World Cup is set to begin on 18 September and will run until 31 October, with the final taking place at Twickenham in London. Toshiba has renewed its sponsorship of the Rugby World Cup for a third time and joins quite a list of sponsors for the tournament  - which includes Heineken, Land Rover, Société Générale, DHL, Emirates and MasterCard as worldwide partners, with Coca-Cola and Canon as official sponsors. Gilbert is Official Ball Supplier, Canterbury of New Zealand is Official Sportswear Supplier, Clifford Chance is appointed Official Law Firm, EY (you’ll know them as Ernst & Young) is Business Advisor and Sportfolio has the role of Master Licensee. 

Rugby Sevens is, of course, a faster, higher energy version of traditional rugby. It is Sevens which the IOC chose to bring into the Olympic program for 2016 in Rio, with the idea that the global popularity of the sport combined with a format that suits both TV and millennials will have crossover power. Well, the audiences love the Sevens and so perhaps the IOC has more than converted a try.
Recent studies by the US Sporting Good Manufacturers Association have rugby as the fastest growing team sport in the United States, ahead of lacrosse and the slightly older but always growing go-to sport of soccer. A big reason of that appears to be the appeal of Sevens; cheaper, easy to understand, fairly safe for a contact sport, and it has a high scoring video game appeal. It also can support teams of both genders, making it a big hit on college campuses as well as on the club side.

Following the Rugby Sevens  tournament in Wellington last week, part of the year-long global HSBC Sevens Rugby World Series, this weekend will see the rugby Sevens ‘leaders’, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand the UK, meet in Las Vegas for the USA Sevens. This is the only North American stop on the HSBC tournament circuit. Some 70,000 people are expected to attend, which makes it one of the biggest events on the Las Vegas calendar for a city that thrives on big events. The projection is that it will drive over US$30 million into the local economy, and with NBC on board to televise the elite events on Saturday and Sunday, the brand value goes up even more. Sponsor interest has also grown, with brands like Subway, Pepsi, DHL, and Five Hour Energy.

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Eric Winton

Director, New Millennium Business

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