World Rugby has decided to embrace the ‘sportainment’ aspect of its Sevens World Series, and is reimagining its flagship rugby sevens offering with fan entertainment and a festival atmosphere at the forefront of its plans.
The next edition of the series will crisscross the globe and is guaranteed to bring the festival atmosphere to seven yet-to-be-announced locations. Indeed, the remodelled Sevens World Series will include seven festival-style events in seven global destinations across seven months – four fewer events than on the 2022-23 calendar.
World Rugby hopes that the move will attract a younger, more diverse and global fanbase whilst generating more revenue to reinvest in players and teams.
“Fans will be at the heart of the action as the Series will chase the sun, mixing the best of sport and entertainment to create unmissable live event experiences with a festival atmosphere in seven iconic global destinations, which will broaden rugby sevens’ appeal and attract new audiences,” World Rugby chief revenue and fan engagement officer Richard Heaselgrave says.
Equal across the board
The series is also set to embrace gender parity and men’s and women’s teams will receive equal participation fees, with a 70% uplift in World Rugby’s investment in participation fees in the new model.
It is also hoped that the reduction in the number of tournaments will allow players to perform to the best of their ability and ensure the series is more environmentally friendly, moving in line with the World Rugby Environmental Sustainability Plan 2030, which was launched last year.
Confirmed hosts, competition dates and a new identity will be announced in due course, with the newly remodelled Sevens World Series running between December 2023 and June 2024.
The number of men’s teams in the series will be cut to 12 from 16 to match up with the Olympic competition model, bringing the series in line with the biggest sporting event on the planet. Rugby sevens has been part of the Olympics since the 2016 edition in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The fully combined men’s and women’s series will conclude with an annual ‘Grand Finale’ event to crown the champions, and offer the opportunity for four men’s and women’s teams to achieve promotion from the Challenger Series.
Teams ranked ninth to 12th will join the top four ranked teams from the Challenger Series in a relegation play-off competition to secure their place in the next edition of the series. The four unsuccessful teams will then go into regional competitions to qualify for the next Challenger Series, which will include 12 men’s and 12 women’s teams competing in the second level of international rugby sevens.
Heaselgrave adds: “The simple aim of the remodelled Series is to grow the game by reaching more fans, generating greater revenues to reinvest in performance, and deliver bigger, better and more engaging and entertaining event experiences for fans in the stadium, interacting online or watching on broadcast around the world.”
Image credit: Hanson Lu on Unsplash
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