Old game + new format = major potential

Jonathan Clegg at the Wall Street Journal writes about the evolution of the game of rugby and the commercial potential of this evolution. What ruby sevens also offers, much like the Twenty20 version of cricket, is a platform to introduce the sport to more potential fans and participants.

There will always be a debate over whether the traditions of a sport are being violated when a new rule or version is being proposed. What most often determines the victor in the debate is the marketplace, and in this case, it seems rugby sevens has a lot of potential for ongoing success.

You can see the full article by at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703939404574568193490134148.html, with an excerpt below.


Rugby Sevens Displays Resurgence

For a sport that was first played as long ago as 1883, it is something of a stretch to describe rugby sevens as a developing game. Yet the short-form version of rugby is experiencing a remarkable resurgence that is raising hopes of a brave new era for the sport.

Sevens has traditionally been viewed as the rugby equivalent of football’s five-a-side kickabout—an entertaining training exercise or a bit of fun before the serious 15-a-side season. But last month’s announcement by the International Olympic Committee that rugby sevens will be included at the 2016 Games has changed all that.

Now the sport’s executives hope that sevens could become a money-maker and even emerge as rugby’s answer to cricket’s lucrative Twenty20 format.

Experts already have estimated the IOC announcement will double the sport’s current sponsorship revenue of roughly $20 million, and this week organizers confirmed the launch of the first national league in Europe—the U.K. National Sevens Series—to start next year.

The competition, which has been established by independent promoter Ultimate Rugby Sevens and approved by England’s Rugby Football Union, features 10 teams competing for an overall title at tournaments in London, Bath, Manchester and Newquay. Plans are in place to expand into Scotland and Wales in subsequent seasons, while the series has also been billed as a model for similar leagues throughout Europe.

Tim Lacey, chief executive and founder of Ultimate Rugby Sevens, believes structured domestic leagues will add to the sport’s popularity. “This is a sport with massive potential globally and commercially but until now it’s been very unstructured and very fragmented,” he says.

(The article continues at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703939404574568193490134148.html).