5 reasons why World Rugby Sevens was a smash hit in Vancouver again

Mar 14 2017, 5:40 am

Year 2 of the Vancouver stop on the World Rugby Sevens tour came to a close on Sunday, with England taking home a surprise 19-7 win over South Africa in the Cup Final.

The match capped off a second straight successful Vancouver tournament that has quickly become one of the highlights of the city’s sporting calendar.

Here’s five reasons why, yet again, the sevens were a smash hit.

1. The fans

Let’s talk about the fans.

I’m not talking about the wild costumes they wore (we’ll get to that in a minute), I’m talking about the pure fandom seen in the seats at BC Place.

Fans appeared knowledgeable of the sport, and were energetic for all 45 matches. They gave the event a wonderful atmosphere.

The two-day event set another Canadian record for the largest ever rugby crowd in Canada with an attendance of 38,058 each day – for a total of 76,116 for the weekend. That’s a 26% growth in ticket sales in just one year.

“The 2017 HSBC Canada Sevens has delivered on the immense promise that the inaugural event created one year ago, showcasing the very best of what rugby is at its core – respect, camaraderie and inclusivity,” said Allen Vansen, CEO, Rugby Canada.

Just like last year, each country (not just Canada) was given a standing ovation as they lapped the stadium upon being eliminated from the tournament.

Fans of the bronze medal winning team from Fiji were impossible to miss. There had to be at least 5,000 of them in attendance, and their passion was infectious.

2. Fancy dress

This might be my favourite part of the weekend.

Ex-England captain Rob Vickerman said Vancouver might have had the best fancy dress he’s ever seen.

See also

Check out our best dressed lists for each day for further proof.

A number of amazing group costumes were as creative as they were hilarious. The Scots playing the bagpipes during Scotland games were also outstanding.

And how about the guy dressed up as the Queen of England greeting the winning team?

3. The sport

If the action on the field disappoints, I don’t care how good your Big Bird costume is, the event won’t be a success.

The festival atmosphere is nothing without the sport itself.

Lucky for us, sevens doesn’t disappoint.

Sevens is higher scoring than traditional rugby, without losing the element of physicality. Watching players up close and seeing the blood, sweat, and tears it takes to play the sport is incredible.

American Perry Baker was worth the price of admission. As were Fiji, who play perhaps the most exciting brand of rugby in the world.

And of course England, who were the surprise champions this year.

4. Canada’s performance

For a second straight year, Canada gave the home fans something to cheer about.

Canada had an improved showing, finishing seventh, upsetting Scotland and making it past the group stage. They eventually bowed out to South Africa, the No. 1 ranked team on the World Series tour.

Their showing came in spite of a number of injuries, and helped improve their ranking to 10th in the world.

“I thought when we were healthy I hope we gave a glimpse of what this group is capable of,” Canada’s head coach Damian McGrath said. “We appreciated every minute of support the crowd gave us and I hope they appreciate what we did.”

5. Sportsmanship

Whether it was a player stopping to show care for an injured opponent, or just the fact that nobody ever seems to do much complaining to the referees, the sportsmanship in rugby sevens is a sight to behold.

The old saying is that soccer is a gentleman’s game played by hooligans and rugby is a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen. I’m not going to speak negatively of soccer players, but rugby is on another level.

The wear and tear players exert on their body without complaint is remarkable.

So is their appreciation for fan support.

And in Vancouver, the feeling is mutual.

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