The International Rugby Board has announced details of the tender process for hosting the flagship Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 and IRB Sevens World Series rounds from 2015/16.
With interest expected to be unprecedented as Sevens continues to break into new markets and attract record attendance and viewing figures, member unions have been given until February 28, 2014 to formally express an interest to tender.
"These are exciting times for a sport that continues to enjoy strong growth in participation, profile, commercial and broadcast appeal around the world and Rugby Sevens has been an integral part of this," said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset. "Since the IOC voted to include Rugby Sevens on the Olympic Games programme we have experienced unprecedented interest from unions and cities across all continents wishing to host one of our major men’s and women’s properties.
"International Rugby Sevens is truly competitive, showcasing great skill and speed to full, vibrant stadia and strong and ever growing global broadcast audiences and that is why we believe that Rugby Sevens will be a great fit for the Olympic Games and the Olympic Games will be great for Rugby."
The deadline for tender submissions for Unions interested in hosting Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 is December 5, 2014 with the IRB Council selecting the winning bid at its May 2015 meeting. The deadline for formal tender submissions for hosting a Sevens World Series tournament is set for June 27, 2014 and the 2015/16 Series hosts will be selected by the IRB EXCO in October 2014.
The dual process follows a detailed strategic review of Rugby World Cup Sevens and the Sevens World Series hosting models and key overall considerations include growing hosting and participation opportunities for our 119 Member Unions, tournament format, increasing Sevens-related global commercial model values, and for the Series specifically, the number of events in the calendar.
Rugby World Cup Sevens has been the driving force for Sevens’ global outreach and the competition broke new ground in 2009 combining a 16-team women’s competition alongside the 24-team men’s competition, showcasing the increasing strength of Women’s Sevens on the world stage.
It was a format that was successfully repeated in Moscow 2013 with the IRB announcing last year that the next event would move to 2018 to sit within the middle of the Olympic cycle, providing the 40 participating teams with the optimum competition platform in the lead in to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Since the creation of the IRB Sevens World Series by the IRB in 1999, the grand-prix style event has been the stage for great entertainment, drama and incredible feats of skill with the likes of Kenya, Fiji, Samoa, Canada and Portugal mixing it with New Zealand, South Africa and England.
It has been a winning recipe for fans, broadcasters and sponsors and the 2012/13 HSBC Sevens World Series accumulated over 4,500 hours of total airtime across 149 territories, a record television audience. Only eight years ago, that total airtime figure stood at just 300 hours.
Increasingly, interest at national and local government level is making the hosting of Rugby tournaments more accessible in both established and developing Rugby markets, with National Olympic Committees also significantly investing in Rugby Sevens as an Olympic sport.
Will USA Rugby make a bid for the Rugby World Cup Sevens? Previously CEO Nigel Melville has said they would, with the key piece in the puzzle being the right venue. Ideally, a double stadium would be the right place for such an event - some might think of Seattle, with Safeco Field (baseball) and Century Link Field (football), aka "The Safe" and "The Clink" right next to each other, with a pedestrian-only walkway between the two, as the perfect place for a worldwide rugby festival.
But Seattle has some obstacles (two different surfaces, money, hotels). Denver, with Dick's Sporting Good Park being part of a massive sports complex that includes 22 full-size natural grass fields, with lights. But those other fields have no seating, so something would have to be done there.
San Jose, with their new soccer stadium (with rugby post sleeves installed, by the way) would have Santa Clara's Buck Shaw Stadium right across the street (Google Maps says it's an eight-minute walk from one to the other) could be an excellent candidate.
There are facilities in the USA that would provide a good atmosphere, the right size, and the right combination of multiple fields and proper seating. This could be the chance for USA Rugby to host a World Cup.