The 2015-16 men’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series will be remembered as a very special and compelling series for many reasons and as the road to Rio 2016 enters the home straight with the HSBC London Sevens, it has also been confirmed as a record-breaker.
The 10-stop grand prix series that takes in some of the world’s most iconic cities has been the most competitive, best-attended, most-viewed and most socially-engaged to date, providing a strong springboard as the world’s top men’s players set their sights on the Olympic Games.
In London this weekend the series champions will be determined, having the honour of heading to Rio 2016 as the current series champions and favourites tag. The competition has been fierce all series with five separate winners in the nine rounds to date (including Kenya’s first-ever series win), while two teams – Fiji and South Africa – can mathematically lift the coveted series trophy.
Attendances have rapidly increased since rugby sevens was confirmed on the Olympic programme in 2009. The 2014-15 series, which doubled as Olympic qualification, was attended by more than 560,000 fans, but with exciting new destinations added to the calendar, sevens’ high-octane competition and festival atmosphere has proven a hit with fans across all 10 destinations, with more than 640,000 attending across the 2015-16 series so far (already a series record), averaging 70,000 per event.
The series is also proving to be a hit with broadcasters and has been broadcast in more markets than ever before, with growth markets including the United States (where NBC’s coverage of the Las Vegas Sevens was watched by more than 1.5million viewers) and China where Alisports and CCTV broadcast the series for the first time. The 2015-16 series has also generated more than 6,000 hours of coverage so far in more than 100 territories across the globe.
The compelling and competitive action has taken off in the social environment with 250,000 new followers across all platforms and 45 million video views (250 per cent increase on 2014-15). It has been the most socially-engaged series ever, whetting the appetite for the Olympic Games on official platforms including @worldrugby7s on Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.
So far, more than 1.7 million unique users have accessed Seven Series information via the website resulting in 16 million page views, while 10,000 fans have played in the Rugby 7Stars fantasy game over the duration of the 2015-16 series, averaging 25 minutes per session.
World Rugby Chief Executive Brett Gosper said: “From the stadium to the sofa, rugby sevens continues to reach, engage and inspire new audiences in record numbers and these strong figures really show the excitement across the global rugby family ahead of the Olympic Games.
“The HSBC London Sevens promises to be a fitting climax to what has been the most competitive series ever and while there is a title to be decided between the teams at the top of the standings, the likes of Samoa, Argentina, Kenya, France and USA have all demonstrated that they are in great form as we enter the final straight to Rio 2016. It is going to be compelling viewing.”