San Francisco to host 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens – long wait likely for Hong Kong’s turn
Governing body World Rugby is looking at growth markets such as the United States, Brazil and Germany
World Rugby’s mission to make further inroads into developing markets, particularly the United States, means the 2018 Rugby Sevens World Cup will be held in San Francisco. It also means that the tournament is unlikely to return to Hong Kong, or Asia, for a while.
Bill Beaumont, the former England captain and World Rugby chairman, talked enthusiastically about the prospects for rugby’s growth via the Sevens World Cup through markets such as the US, Brazil and Germany.
The US had always been identified as having major growth potential, even before rugby sevens’ debut at the Rio Olympics last year when it made a big impact on American television audiences.
“The last [Sevens World Cup] went to Russia and now it’s the US. The USA is a vast market, the biggest commercial sporting market in the world and we would be neglectful if we didn’t look at it,” said Beaumont.
“Not only the US, we are also looking at Europe and Germany is a growth market. We’ve identified United States, Brazil and Germany as potential markets.”
Hong Kong hosted the Sevens Rugby World Cup twice, in 1997 and 2006 - both won by Fiji. However, with World Rugby looking at North America and Europe - and a four-year cycle for every tournament remaining - any Hong Kong bid would likely face stiff competition.
Asia’s best hope would lie with a mainland China city, though the governing body would probably prefer they host a World Series tournament before attempting a World Cup.
Beaumont said baseball’s Giants Stadium in San Francisco will host the tournament from July 20-22 2018 after a successful bid by the city’s bid organisers.
“We are delighted to announce the World Cup Sevens in San Francisco. It’s at the Giants Stadium, an iconic American baseball ground and the enthusiasm that we saw from the ground, USA Rugby and city officials was truly overwhelming,” said Beaumont.
“It’s exciting times for sevens rugby on the back of what was an outstanding tournament at the Rio Olympics.”
World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper said television network NBC’s ratings for the sevens tournament at the Rio Games was far higher than expected. “American fans are very well prepared to host a Sevens World Cup,” said Gosper.