Rugby Canada and the Canada Sevens Bid Committee have successfully landed the rights to host the World Rugby Seven Series, a circuit of international rugby tournaments played around the globe, at B.C. Place Stadium on an annual basis.
The first tournament in Vancouver will be held in March 2016 and a span of two days over a weekend involving sixteen of the world’s top men’s rugby sevens teams. The rugby variety is played with only seven players per side, as opposed to the usual fifteen, and has a shorter duration than the traditional match. It holds a strong following in parts of Asia, Europe, Australia, UAE, South Africa and New Zealand.
“Vancouver is a world renowned event location and a city with a tremendous track record of hosting incredible events, like the 2010 Olympic Winter Games,” says Bernard Lapasset, the chairman of World Rugby. “Its inclusion within a stellar Series hosting line-up, is great for players, great for fans and great for the ongoing prosperity and development of rugby in Canada and around the globe.”
The host cities for the Series’ over the past few years were Gold Coast (Australia), Dubai (U.A.E.), Port Elizabeth (South Africa), Wellington (New Zealand), Las Vegas (U.S.A.), Hong Kong (China), Tokyo (Japan), Glasgow (Scotland), and London (England). However, it is rumoured that Tokyo, Las Vegas and Glasgow have been removed from their designation as host cities for future tournaments: the full itinerary of circuit host cities will be announced next month.
Canada’s bid submission was announced last summer and is supported by the City of Vancouver, both provincial and federal governments as well as over fifty other Canadian corporations and organizations. Amongst the currently known host cities and stadiums, with 54,000 seats Vancouver’s B.C. Place will be one of the Series’ largest stadiums. A new synthetic playing surface, approved by both FIFA and World Rugby, will be installed at the stadium in time for this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.
“The tournament builds on the hosting legacy of Vancouver 2010. There is nothing like playing the best in the world at home in a full stadium,” says John Furlong, the co-chair of the Bid Team and former CEO of VANOC for the 2010 Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games. “Canadian fans will see Canada’s rising rugby stars face such powerhouse teams as the All-Blacks, Springboks, Wallabies and more in an electrifying, non-stop atmosphere with the world watching.”
However, the tournament is much more than just a sporting event: it will also be accompanied with a festival consisting of entertainment and activities that build on the Series’ unique fan experience. Both the tournament and the festival are expected to drive strong tourism activity and create a significant local economic impact for the region.
“Given that hosting major sporting events is an integral part of a successful tourism strategy, Tourism Vancouver is thrilled to welcome another world class event to our city,” adds Ty Spears, CEO of Tourism Vancouver.
Rugby sevens is known around the world as an exciting celebration of both sport and entertainment… hence the reason it attracts so many tourists to its host cities. Now it’s Vancouver’s opportunity to share our spectacular city with rugby sevens fans for years to come.”
It was also announced today that the Vancouver tournament’s local organizing committee will be chaired by Furlong and the members of its board of directors will include Canadian rugby officials and other former VANOC leaders.
Canada is a strong player in rugby sevens and has competed in every Sevens World Series since the inaugural tournament in 1999. In the 2013-2014 season, the Canadian team finished with an overall sixth place result.
Both the men’s and women’s national rugby teams are supported by Own the Podium as they have been deemed as potential medal contenders for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, when rugby sevens is introduced as an Olympic sport.