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USA rugby: how rugby sevens is taking America by storm
In the UK, if we want a contact sport which involves a ball, rugby’s the one for us. But in the US, it’s all about American football. Even if you don’t watch it, everyone’s heard of the Super Bowl, right? How about the USA Sevens tournament in Las Vegas?
When you think of America, you don’t tend to associate it with rugby. But that could be about to change.
What is rugby sevens?
Unlike rugby union, which involves teams of 15 playing two 40 minute halves, sevens involves teams of - you guessed it - seven. And they play - you guessed it again - seven-minute halves!
Because sevens has quicker games, it’s a much more accessible version of rugby. Full tournaments can finish in a single day or two. This is much more convenient for players and spectators alike.
And the fast pace of the action is reflected in the atmosphere of the crowds. We don’t always want to sit through eighty minutes of gameplay for a final two minutes of action. With sevens, it’s go go go right from the start!
As of 2016, rugby sevens was introduced into the summer Olympics. And like anyone else, Americans love the Olympics. This move has opened up sevens to entirely new audiences. Anyone watching Olympic TV coverage could switch over, catch a quick seven minutes of play, and fall in love with the sport as much as we do.
The sport no longer relies on people coming out to watch games, or consciously choosing to switch over and watch at home. It’s pushing the sport out to any avid Olympics fan. And interest is spreading because of it.
As well as this, since 2004, Las Vegas has hosted one of ten tournaments that make up the Sevens World Series. Next year it’s moving over to Los Angeles. But having an American-based event, regardless of state, brings the sport a lot closer to home for Americans and encourages them to get involved.
In a similar way that they love to tailgate football games, they get to make an occasion out of the sport. And the atmosphere can win people over just as much as the sport itself.
These developments are clearly working. Between 2007 and 2017, we saw a million more participants join the sport, reaching 1.62 million. The sport is enjoyable to play and entertaining to watch, but it previously lacked the platform and reach for US audiences.
Now the word is out and we hope the momentum will keep going. Tokyo 2020 is only around the corner. And that will be another amazing opportunity to locate new interest and prospective players.
Before, rugby in the US was overshadowed by American football. But some key developments to USA rugby have begun to put it on the map. Between Olympics buzz and large-scale tournaments on American soil, USA rugby could be on its way to giving American football a run for its money.
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