LOS ANGELES, CA – On July 12, the Grand Prix Rugby 7swill bring it’s balls to Los Angles. The World’s First Million Dollar Rugby Tournament, brought to us by Grand Prix Entertainment, will be a major tournament featuring over 20 of the world’s best teams… for money.
This is a wonderful development for 7s within the United States. However, will the tournament succeed in drawing enough of a crowd to the event? On paper it seems like a great idea, but looking at it a bit more closely, I don’t see how it will be profitable or a success. Here are the key issues:
–The Rugby itself
We’ll start with… Location. What’s that phrase we always hear? “Location, location, location.” Well, for all intents and purposes, Los Angles is a terrific choice. So they got the location part right. I can’t fault them here. It’s easy to get to and is a major hub for world travel. The stadium is excellent as well; The Home Depot Center is the very nicely planned out soccer stadium that the LA Galaxy of the MLS call home. At one time it even hosted the USA 7s.
Fan Draw… I can see it being something people may be interested in and there is a large rugby presence in Southern California, but if they don’t pull in the big names, which they may not, they won’t get the fans. The current “invited” (but not guaranteed) lineup will hopefully include:
Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China
England, Fiji, France, Georgia, Germany
Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Japan, Kenya
Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal,
Russia, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa,
Spain, Tonga, USA, Wales, Romania
If the big guns show and most of this pool attends, this will definitely be worth the trip. But it could be tough sailing because it’s mid-season for the Southern Hemisphere, so the player pool for some countries may prohibit them from attending – or simply not being as strong as they would normally be. Time will tell.
The Rugby Itself: The proposed line-up is solid but for a few teams: Germany, India, and Korea. I mean, really? If you’re hurting for teams how about inviting an All-Star Premiership Team or club teams from The Premiership? The skill would be much better and so would the competition. Unproven teams aren’t a place for a Million Dollar 7s Tournaments.
The Money: The ruling factor of the tourney is? Money. A Million Dollar Prize goes to the winners. Can’t complain about that. And they’ve partnered with NFL Network, so this could be a decent partnership. From a fan’s perspective, though, I’m not going to pay for tickets to this event! At $112.50 for three days of rugby, it’s too expensive an event for my budget – especially when you weigh in airfare and hotel. They are charging more than the Vegas 7s – and they’re not even a proven tournament.
For me, the hurdles are too high as presented for the Grand Prix 7s to be successful. I do hope I’m wrong, though, as its success would be a great boost for rugby in the USA… and globally.