Tournament puts Vancouver on the global rugby map

Canada Sevens Jeff Vinnick

Sevens Rugby tournament a ‘proven model’ in cities like Hong Kong and Las Vegas

Lucky seven
This weekend’s HSBC Canada Sevens rugby tournament, held for the first time in front of a Canadian audience at BC Place, exceeded organizers’ targets for both ticket sales and sponsorship support. “The enthusiasm with which Vancouver and frankly Canada has embraced this event is beyond what we expected, but it’s not beyond what we expected over the life of the tournament,” says Bill Cooper, CEO of the Canada Sevens. “We do expect this tournament to become a popular bucket list for Canadians on a regular basis. It’s that calibre of entertainment.”
About a week before the event, 60,000 lower-bowl tickets had sold out, prompting organizers to look for additional options. They decided to open one side of the upper bowl and sell an additional 5,000 tickets. By the end of the weekend, 64,418 tickets were sold. Vancouver’s enthusiasm for the event began early; back in April 2015, soon after organizers announced they were holding the tournament, corporate suites sold out in 36 hours.
Rugby Canada competed against 23 other cities when it bid for the event, which is the sixth stop on a 10-country tour. Rugby Canada is set to host the event in Vancouver for four years. The two-day tournament features the top 16 teams in the world, and each team plays three 14-minute matches leading up to the final game. The fast-paced game, with seven players instead of the traditional 15, is considered a more spectator-friendly version because it’s easier to follow.
Cooper attributes the success of the tournament to the alignment of a few favourable circumstances, including that Sevens is included in the Olympic program this year and therefore on the rise in terms of consumer interest and popularity. “The other ingredient that cannot be understated is the hard work of our colleagues in markets like Hong Kong, Las Vegas and London that have built Sevens tournaments for years now and it’s a proven model,” he says. “It’s just fun. It’s more like a festival than a sporting event.”

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