Rugby sevens is set to reach out and inspire more fans in more nations that ever before with World Rugby announcing details of an exciting new competition and commercial blueprint for its record-breaking flagship properties.

With rugby sevens achieving year-on year record attendance, viewership and engagement figures, and excitement building ahead of its Olympic Games debut at Rio 2016, World Rugby has announced a four-year extension of its hugely-successful partnership with HSBC and the schedule of the iconic locations that will host rounds of the record-breaking HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series over the same period.

The record deal sees the banking giant extend its hugely successful naming rights of the World Rugby Sevens Series and acquire naming rights to the Women’s World Rugby Sevens Series. In addition to the two new series title sponsorships, the new agreement will also see HSBC as local title sponsor of the individual rounds.*

The announcement is a further boost to World Rugby’s mission to grow and inspire new participants and audiences around the globe and also reinforces HSBC’s long-term rugby commitment of investing in the game from community to elite level as the sport continues to experience unprecedented global growth ahead of sevens’ Olympic Games debut at Rio 2016.

World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “Rugby sevens is going from strength to strength ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the men’s and women’s series have been at the heart of the global sevens success story with their winning brand of high-octane, competitive and broadcast- friendly action, global locations and festival atmosphere.

“HSBC has been central to the sevens success story and is totally aligned with our mission to attract and inspire new players and audiences. We are excited about this increased commitment and the certainty it provides over the next four years to grow our sport within existing and emerging rugby markets.

“We are particularly delighted that our flagship women’s series will be supported by HSBC over the next few years. Women’s rugby is one of the world’s fastest-growing team sports, with more than 1.5 million regularly playing and new participants being welcomed every day. The feats of our best female players on the series have been a source of inspiration to young players and the driving force behind ever-increasing popularity and profile.”

Giles Morgan, Global Head of Sponsorship and Events, HSBC Holdings, said: “HSBC became the first-ever title sponsor of the men’s world series back in 2010, and we are excited to not only be extending this partnership for another four years, but also to become the first-ever title sponsor of the increasingly popular women’s world series. The Olympic decision has served as a tremendous catalyst for the growth of sevens around the world, not just in participation but also through the popularity of the HSBC Sevens World Series in recent years.

“HSBC is committed to supporting not only the elite end of the sport during this historic period in the game’s growth but will also continue with our long-term, significant investment in helping to grow and develop rugby through our community programmes which have seen more than 200,000 youngsters around the world introduced to the sport. HSBC rugby festivals and coach education programmes, as well as grassroots sponsorships such as the Rosslyn Park National Schools Sevens in England, have all helped to inspire even more children to get involved with rugby.

“We will continue to use the profile and interest in the world series to help engage even more youngsters to the game over the coming years, and are excited by the addition of the women’s series to our portfolio given the interest that women’s rugby is attracting around the world.”

Since HSBC became title sponsor of the world series in 2009, the series has seen attendance grow to 542,929 with the series proving more competitive than ever. It now amasses 5,884 broadcast hours with a global reach of 400 million households. Fiji claimed the series last season following New Zealand’s dominant run of four successive wins, and USA claimed their inaugural tournament victory in London in May. Starting in December, the new HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series will be expanded to include 10 host cities in a further illustration of the popularity and growth of the game around the world.

At the announcement in Paris, host city of the 1924 Olympic Games where rugby last featured as an Olympic sport, World Rugby also revealed the full schedule of 10 cities that will host a round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series for the next four years with new destinations Sydney, Cape Town, Vancouver, Singapore and Paris expanding rugby’s reach around the globe. The 2015-16 series will kick-off after Rugby World Cup 2015 enabling the best 15s players to participate across the entire series ahead of rugby sevens’ Olympic Games debut.

2015-16 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series schedule
Round 1: Dubai: 4-5 December
Round 2: Cape Town: 12-13 December
Round 3: Wellington: 30-31 January
Round 4: Sydney: 6-7 February
Round 5: Las Vegas: 4-6 March
Round 6: Vancouver: 12-13 March
Round 7: Hong Kong: 8-10 April
Round 8: Singapore: 16-17 April
Round 9: Paris: 14-15 May
Round 10: London: 21-22 May

Details of the locations and dates for the 2015-16 HSBC Women’s World Rugby Sevens Series will be announced in due course.

Commenting on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens World Series schedule, World Rugby Chief Executive Brett Gosper said: “Rugby sevens is experiencing record attendance, broadcast and commercial growth and is rapidly becoming a major driver of revenue for World Rugby to reinvest in the game.

“This schedule represents an exciting combination for World Rugby and one which we think will enable the sport to reach developing rugby markets, and therefore contribute to the continued growth of the game and its character-building values worldwide. It is great for players, great for fans and great for the ongoing prosperity and development of rugby sevens worldwide.”

USA player Zack Test, who attended the event in Paris (pictured left with England captain Tom Mitchell, France captain Fanny Horta and France's Terry Bourahoua), said: “It is great for the players to know that a strong and committed sponsor is in place for the series. HSBC have been great supporters of rugby for a long time now and they really give a stability and certainty to the tournament.

“From USA’s point of view, we are in a great place at the moment. We took real confidence from winning the London Sevens this year and it all bodes well for the upcoming series and also the Olympics. A year ago, people were wondering if we would even qualify but now we will be going to Rio looking for medals. Well, we are the defending Olympic champions so we’re going there aiming to win.”

France women’s sevens captain Fanny Horta said: “This is a great day for women’s rugby and shows that women’s rugby is developing at a great pace.

“The standard of play in the series is going up all the time and there are more and more teams that are competitive. For us, winning qualification for the Olympics was huge and we will now build on that success as we get ready for the series.”

Photo credit: Isabelle Picarel