World Sevens Series embraces Japan
August 18, 2011
New Zealand's defence of the HSBC Sevens World Series crown will take them to Japan for the first time © Getty Images
The HSBC Sevens World Series is set to break new ground next year with Japan set to join the tournament schedule for the first time.
The International Rugby Board have announced that the Prince Chichibu Stadium in Tokyo will host the seventh event of the 2011-12 season - a week after the renowned tournament in Hong Kong. The expansion is another major boost for Asian Rugby with Japan also preparing to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
The Series will kick off and climax at different venues, with Australia's Gold Coast set to host the opener on 25-26 November, 2011 and London's Twickenham Stadium the climax on 12-13 May, 2012.
IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset welcomed the latest developments that come ahead of Sevens' return to the Olympics at the 2016 Games in Rio, Brazil. "I am delighted that Tokyo is joining the international roster of tournaments that comprise the record-breaking HSBC Sevens World Series, which last season was watched in 147 countries in 16 languages.
"I am sure that the Japan Rugby Football Union will host a successful and popular event that Japan, Asia and the global Rugby family will be proud of. These are extremely exciting times for Rugby in Asia, where interest in Rugby has been boosted by Japan securing hosting rights for Rugby World Cup 2019 and Olympic inclusion. The IRB is committed to ensuring all the processes are in place for the continued development of the sport throughout the Region so that even more men, women and children can enjoy Rugby.
"We very much look forward to working in partnership with the Japan Rugby Football Union to deliver an event that will benefit Asian Rugby and mark another significant milestone as we countdown to Sevens' Olympic Games debut in Rio in 2016."
The IRB is committed to the development of Rugby across Asia and working in collaboration with the Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU), it is currently investing over US$3 million annually in development, high performance and tournament programmes across Asia.
Japan is looking forward to welcoming the world, with Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) chairman Tatsuzo Yabe commenting: "It is with great pleasure that we welcome the prestigious HSBC Sevens World Series to Japan. I am sure that the event will be extremely popular, especially at a time when there is unprecedented growth in the Olympic form of the Game.
"We are determined to take this opportunity to demonstrate the appetite for Rugby in Japan and give international fans a taste of what to expect at Rugby World Cup 2019. We want to deliver an outstanding Sevens tournament that Japan and Asia can be proud of. To our visitors from overseas, please come and enjoy the tournament and witness Japan's strong unity through these tough times. We are truly looking forward to welcoming the international rugby community for the HSBC Sevens World Series."
Last season's Series reached its bold attendance target by attracting over 500,000 fans around the world, and reached 332 million homes.
HSBC Sevens World Series 2011/12
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Despite having lost all four of their 2014 Six Nations games, the future of Italian rugby is bright with the team showing a new youthful core, argues Enrico Borra
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'