This post is courtesy of Brian Johnson…
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – Starting in 2015-2016, Sydney will take over as the host city of the Australian leg for the HSBC Sevens World Series. Allianz Stadium in Moore Park will be the venue for the newly named Sydney Sevens for the next four years after taking over from Cbus Super Stadium located in the Gold Coast suburb of Robina, Queensland. Sydney joins Vancouver as the two newest venues of the newly expanded 10-destination tournament starting in 2015-2016.
The Australian Rugby Union officially announced the news on Monday, hoping a move to the largest city in the country will boost attendance for the event to match crowds similar to the more popular Sevens World Series’ venues. We truly believe that Sydney has the potential to match the excitement surrounding tournaments like Hong Kong, Twickenham and Wellington in terms of event experience and crowd numbers. The dates of the tournament for 2015-2016 won’t be set by World Rugby until the end of the month. The Australian leg kicks off the World Series each year with the Gold Coast starting things off last October.
Unfortunately, the attendance of the Sevens World Series kick-off seemed to decline, with only a 20,000+ crowd attending the event last October in the Gold Coast. The Australian Rugby Union reported these numbers were well below expectations but align with the trend occurring at other venues, including the home of the team favored to win this year‚ New Zealand, according to bookmakers with Gambling.com. Attendance at the Wellington Sevens was also well below expectation. The fourth-leg of the series, played in the New Zealand capital, usually touts of one of the larger draws, but witnessed a decline in attendance this past year.
World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said, “I have no doubt that the Sydney Sevens will inspire new audiences and participants and contribute to the continued strong growth of the game in Australia and around the world.” The decline in attendance for this year’s series in countries that take rugby so seriously – like Australia and New Zealand – posts a red flag as World Rugby pushes to increase the game’s profile around the world. Sevens will debut in the 2016 Rio Olympics, a major reason World Rugby is this making push to increase the profile of the unique style rugby.
World Rugby securing a spot for Sevens in the upcoming 2016 Rio Olympics should help add momentum to their efforts to raise Sevens’ profile and gain more fans all over the world. Moving venues – like in the case of the switch to Sydney – should give momentum to the sport heading into 2016, where World Rugby believes the sport can grab a foothold in the hearts of rugby fans across the globe.
Along with the big profile stadium moves, World Rugby is hoping the unpredictable and exciting 2014-2015 season will also garner attention leading into 2016. This year’s tournament has witnessed unlikely pool winners, including Fiji winning the Las Vegas Sevens, and insane matches. The turbulent season should continue to gain media coverage as the season climaxes into the May finale in London. But regardless of the success of the Sydney move or the unpredictable 2014-2015 season, the Olympic debut of Sevens will be a monumental moment for the sport.
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