Teams set for 'biggest ever year of Sevens'
Never before has the phrase 'World Series' seemed more appropriate.
With 10 global destinations now hosting rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series, Rugby Sevens' Olympic sport is set to embark on a genuine global tour in 2012/13.
With the new addition of La Plata in Argentina, the competition, which once again notched record broadcast figures last season, will this time span six continents and clock up countless more airmiles on the way. It marks further significant growth for a sport which, after London 2012, will embark on a maiden Olympic cycle on the road to its first gold medal match in Rio in 2016.
In just ten weeks Rugby's newest breed of pro athlete will fly into Australia for the season-opener and then on to a new home for Sevens in Argentina and then Dubai to South Africa, all before Christmas.
Early in 2013 they will then take in New Zealand's capital Wellington before swooping across the Pacific to Las Vegas for the USA Sevens. There's a short break to recharge for the giant Hong Kong Sevens, then quickly onto Tokyo where 20 million potential new fans lie in wait. And finally they will round off the season in Europe, with first Glasgow and then London's Twickenham.
The format of a Sevens competition is relentless and the season as a whole mirrors that intensity, promising to be immensely challenging and rewarding for the teams.
O'Connor: A growth sport
“The game certainly isn’t shrinking. It’s a growth sport and an Olympic sport," said Australia men’s Sevens Coach, Michael O’Connor.
O'Connor's team is a case in point. One short week after hosting the opening round of the HSBC Sevens World Series on the Gold Coast, his players will fly to a place totally alien to most, if not all, of them in Argentina.
“Argentina have been a competitive Sevens team for the last decade so it’s great to have them hosting. They have very knowledgeable, vocal crowds over there with a great appreciation for Sevens, so it’s a great fit. It’s an example of how truly international the game is."
For the likes of England and the other sides in Europe, the opening two rounds will entail even more travel, but it's something that the coaches and professional players are ready to take in their stride.
Ryan: Biggest ever year for Sevens
"It's the biggest ever year for Sevens," said England's Sevens head coach, Ben Ryan.
“The HSBC Sevens World Series is now set up with 10 tournaments in five pairs and visits every continent, the season ends with the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow and we'll be in the Olympic cycle for the first time, which all underlines where the sport is going," Ryan added.
"They're passionate about their rugby in Argentina and We're very excited about the venue too. It looks very similar to the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth and stages huge events like the Copa America football as well as the Pumas versus New Zealand Test in September, so there should be a great atmosphere."
International Sevens tickets
Tickets are already on sale for the opening round of the Series on the Gold Coast and, as a reward to those who attended in 2011, tickets have been frozen at last year’s prices.
Two day passes start from $79 for adults and $158 for a family, while fans can also choose to attend on either the Saturday or Sunday. For details CLICK HERE >>