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(CNN)China is making headlines with its stratospheric spending on global football stars -- but is it also undergoing a rugby revolution?
"The numbers in China are obviously mind-boggling," World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper tells CNN. "As a nation, it's the No. 1 target not just for sport but all businesses.
"We have a fixed objective of one million players in 10 years, but that's being readjusted by the federation to five years I believe. That's a pretty meteoric rise."
A year ago, it had 76,000 rugby players. In 2016, another 60,000 Chinese were introduced to the oval-ball sport, and officials there hope for as many as a million players in five years.
A new study conducted by Nielsen Sports on behalf of World Rugby has found that the number of rugby fans in the six markets surveyed has grown by 16.83 million as a result of the sport's inclusion in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
World Rugby has announced record-breaking fan figures for the men’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, after another compelling season on and off the field.
The 2016-17 series, the first after rugby sevens’ Olympic Games debut at Rio, saw massive crowds in cities including Dubai, Cape Town, Sydney, Vancouver, Las Vegas, Hong Kong and London as the total attendance over the 10 rounds increased by almost ten per cent, to 734,000 fans. The total social media community reached 120 million across multiple languages as the series broadcast to a global TV audience in over 100 countries.
The figures reflect the increased popularity of a sport that saw its fan-base increase by almost 17 million people in six key territories and as much as an estimated 30 million worldwide (Neilsen), as sevens basked in the golden halo of a high-octane Olympic Games debut.
The International Olympic Committee's (IOC) executive board announced the decision on Saturday June 10th, 2017 (NZ time) for all 28 sports that featured in 2016 to remain for the 2024 Olympic Games program.
An IOC session in Lima, Peru in September will consider the board's recommendation and World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said the news was exciting as sevens hopes to cements its status as an Olympic sport.
The deluge of tries ensured rugby sevens maintained its reputation as the fast-paced, high-scoring cousin of the fifteen-aside game, while the game's pecking-order also encountered a shake-up with the likes of Scotland, USA, and Canada reaching new heights.
The fan experience has been as lively and colorful as ever, with attendance levels peaking at several venues as sevens continues to stretch to all corners of the globe.
Las Vegas welcomed 80,691 fans across the three days -- the seventh consecutive year a record crowd has been recorded. And, in just its second year hosting sevens, it is estimated that 76,000 watched in Vancouver, up from 60,000 the previous year. Hong Kong, meanwhile, the world's biggest and most iconic sevens host, regularly attracts 120,000 visitors.
This year, 733,000 are thought to have watched the World Series at its 10 locations; by way of comparison, 458,000 spectated the 2009-10 season. This growth owes not only to the feast of games on the pitch, but also the culture off it -- fancy dress and fan entertainment has long been a staple of sevens.
Which begs the question... Is a trip to the sevens the best day out in sport?
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (download the full press release here)
Los Angeles, Calif., (April 4th, 2017)—The Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) today announced it will be the official host of the new Olympic sport Rugby Sevens, expanding the international sports landscape in Los Angeles for years to come. Partnering with Grand Prix Network LLC (GPN) and GPN's exclusively sanctioned partner and Olympic member USA Rugby, LAFC's Banc of California [NYSE:BANC] Stadium will be the permanent home of the Grand Prix Rugby "$1M Champion Sevens,” the world’s richest Rugby Sevens championship in history.
Rugby is not a threat to the great sport of American football", but RFL Chairman William Tatham warned, "NFL owners might worry they lose out on the opportunity to own their NFL major market's franchise in America's first exclusively sanctioned professional rugby league, the Grand Prix Rugby Football League (RFL)".
Article by Gary Morley and Alex Thomas, CNN - The rise of Rugby in America took another step forward this month as Las Vegas welcomed record crowds to its international tournament for the seventh year in a row. But, aside from the 80,000-plus fans attending across the three days, there was another significant barometer of the game's hopes of cracking the lucrative US sports market.
Las Vegas | March 3-5
by Martin Nethercutt, McCartney Multimedia, Inc.
We had a great time watching the Rugby 7's event at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, with over 30,000 people in attendance. We enjoyed the show where most of the Rugby playing nations were represented. The great thing about the 7's is that it is "short attention span theater." The games are 15 minutes each, two halves at 7 minutes and 1 minute break in between. So, if you missed a game, not to worry, the next one is right around the corner. From Pacific Islanders like Samoa, Fiji, Australia and New Zealand, to the European countries and of course Canada and the U.S., this is what makes this tournament so colorful and fan friendly. Graciously hosted by Bill Tatham (Owner, Grand Prix Rugby), we had Sam Boyd Stadium tower seating, great company, food and drinks. This sport is definitely on the rise in the US, and we consider ourselves lucky to be part of something new and fresh in the world of sports.
SAN FRANCISCO – Grand Prix Rugby (GPR), a San Francisco-based company, today announced an exclusive agency of record agreement with Rugby International Marketing (RIM), expanding GPR’s sanctioning relationship with RIM parent USA Rugby (USAR).
New York-based RIM was created by USA Rugby in 2015 as a for-profit entity to commercialize its and third parties’ marketing rights for the sport of rugby. RIM will now assist GPR to secure corporate partners and make the inaugural Grand Prix Sevens Tournament in the U.S. a commercial success. On the heels of rugby sevens’ successful debut in the Rio Summer Olympic Games, GPR will be launching its new international sevens competition in 2017, featuring top teams from around the world.
“Timing may be everything,” said GPR Chairman William Tatham, Esq. “Between W Partners, RIM, and USA Rugby, we are blessed to partner with incredibly forward-thinking and strategic partners to help take Grand Prix Rugby to the marketplace.”
“We are pleased to be working with Grand Prix Rugby as its agency of record,” said RIM Chairman Chad Keck. “Rugby sevens has grown massively in awareness and popularity in the U.S., and as the leading rights holder for the game of rugby in America we are uniquely positioned to support GPR and W Partners in attracting sponsors for their events.”
The official sanction from USA Rugby, which was recently extended to 2024, grants GPR the exclusive right to own, operate and globally broadcast professional rugby sevens matches, leagues or tournaments in the United States.
About Grand Prix Entertainment
Grand Prix Entertainment is the parent company to Grand Prix Rugby, and a diversified multi-media production and distribution company that owns and manages sports, entertainment and gaming properties, including U.S. Exclusive Sanction and License Rights for both professional USA Rugby Sevens, and professional USA Volleyball men and women’s indoor volleyball. For more information, please visit www.grandprixentertainment.com.
About USA Rugby
Established in 1975, USA Rugby is the governing body for the sport of rugby in America and a Full Sport Member of the United States Olympic Committee. Currently headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, USA Rugby is charged with developing the game on all levels and has more than 120,000 active members, with more than 35,000 playing collegiate rugby and 35,000 playing senior club rugby. USA Rugby oversees four national teams, multiple collegiate and high school All-American sides, and an emerging Olympic development pathway for elite athletes. It also hosts more than 30 national playoff and championship events each year as a service to its members, and will be the host union for the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit www.usarugby.org for more information.
About Rugby International Marketing
Created by USA Rugby in 2015, Rugby International Marketing is a unique 'for profit' commercial entity tasked with representing USA Rugby's commercial rights and developing new revenue streams to fund the game. The mission of Rugby International Marketing is to provide attractive financial returns to USA Rugby and its minority shareholders by utilizing third-party capital in an entrepreneurially driven, for-profit company. Among the properties represented by RIM are the USA men's and women's national teams, the Americas Rugby Championship, Grand Prix Rugby and the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens. Minority investors in RIM include the England Rugby Football Union and CSM Sport and Entertainment.
CSM is a global leader in the business of sport and entertainment and is part of Chime Communications. CSM is active in every major sport world-class services from strategy to execution. The organization is made up of market-leading specialists that operate on every continent with over 800 people across 26 offices in 19 countries.
CSM has been at the heart of rugby since the beginning of the professional era and has worked across every region and major property in the sport. CSM has planned and activated alongside some of the sport's most notable sponsors, including HSBC, Adidas, AIG and Dover Men+Care. Additionally, the agency represents some of the best players in the world, including Dan Carter, Kieran Read and Sergio Parisse.
About W Partners
W Partners is a sales and marketing agency headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Focused on partnership development in the sports, entertainment and culinary industries, W Partners assists rights holders in revenue optimization through consulting and sales practices across media, partnership and licensing. W Partners mission is to create “Winning Partnerships” for both properties and their strategic media and sponsorship partners. For more information, please contact Taylor Dvorak at email@example.com.
USA Rugby and Grand Prix extend their U.S. Exclusive Sanction and License Agreement through 2024 to take advantage of rugby sevens debut in the Rio Games as a springboard to grow the sport in the U.S.
The U.S. Exclusive Sanction grants Grand Prix the exclusive right to own, operate and globally broadcast USA Rugby sanctioned professional rugby sevens matches, leagues or tournaments. Unparalleled in global sports, these exclusive rights provide Grand Prix competitive advantages and protections never before held by a new sports league.
USA Rugby is a member of both the U.S. Olympic Committee and World Rugby. USA Rugby competes in the record-breaking HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. USA Rugby hosts the HSBC’s USA Sevens which sold a record 81,138 tickets in 2016, broadcast live on NBC and televised globally in over 400 million homes and 147 countries.
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