The International Rugby Board and HSBC are setting a target of 500,000 fans for the entire 2010/11 HSBC Sevens World Series, starting with the season-opener in Dubai on 3-4 December.
|Speakers at the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens Press conference were (left to right): Gordon Tietjens (NZ Sevens coach), Andy Cole (Chairman, AGRFU), Richard Vaughan (DSVP Commercial Operations Worldwide, Emirates Airline), Mark Egan (IRB Head of Development and Performance), Giles Morgan (Group Head of Sponsorship, HSBC). Photo: Getty Images for HSBC
Speaking at the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens press conference, Giles Morgan, Group Head of Sponsorship HSBC Holdings, joined the IRB’s Head of Development & Performance Mark Egan in announcing the figure.
The 2009/10 World Series attracted the highest number of fans through the turnstiles to date - 471,000 the accumulative total for the entire Series - and this year, with increased broadcast interest and the continued growth in Sevens’ popularity as a new Olympic sport, even greater levels of interest are anticipated, starting in Dubai.
“People love coming to Sevens events,” said Egan. “They get two days of great entertainment, they get close to the players, there’s a great atmosphere and it’s a family event so I think 500,000 for the whole Series is a good target to set ourselves.
“They’ve been growing steadily over the years. Hong Kong, Wellington, Dubai and South Africa have all reached the stage where they sell out, the London tournament is setting new records year on year, the USA event in Las Vegas will grow and, as will the events in Australia and Scotland, so I think if can all reach that figure together it will show again the global popularity of Sevens.”
Morgan echoed those sentiments: “This is a sport that has so much potential. Sevens now is going into a whole new orbit in terms of interest from new countries around the world and at the very pinnacle of the sport is the HSBC Sevens World Series,” he said.
“It’s hugely exciting. When the Sevens was announced into the Olympic programme we were very keen to start conversations with the IRB,” added Morgan.
“It is the showcase for the very best teams in the world and to be starting here in Dubai at the start of the 2010/11 Series is really exciting - the weather is fantastic and we are due a real festival of Rugby.”
McCaw wins IRB player of year award
NEW ZEALAND captain Richie McCaw has become the first player to win the International Rugby Board player of the year award for the third time.
All Blacks head coach Graham Henry won a record fourth coach of the year award and New Zealand were named as the team of the year for the fourth time in six years.
Openside flanker McCaw, 29, led his team in their unbeaten Tri-Nations campaign and to a third grand slam in five years in the November internationals. The All Blacks won 13 of their 14 matches in 2010.
“It’s been a good year and everyone has made a huge effort, from the coaches right through all the players. It’s been a lot of fun as well to work with quality players, and I just love playing rugby and especially international rugby,” McCaw said.
“This award is very special but wouldn’t happen without an exceptional team who are good mates, and that’s something I am equally proud of.”
IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset added: “It has been a compelling year of international rugby as we count down to what promises to be a special Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand.”
“The All Blacks have consistently performed to the highest standards this year, they are number one in the IRB world rankings and have lost just one match in 2010.”