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Archive for July 29, 2017

July 29, 2017 — The next outlet, with a twist

Over the last 20 years or so, major media outlets like Fox Sports World, College Sports Television, and One World Sports have tried to make rugby a major sport by featuring it with American-style commentary, punditry, and even building a full-sized pub inside of the studio. These efforts at publicizing the sport failed so badly that none of these three networks exist anymore under their current names.

The Olympics provided a lifeline of sorts for the sport by including it for Rio 2016. But the version which is in the Games is not the traditional Union game, or the professional League game. Instead, the version in the Olympics is the Sevens version, which is played 7-on-7 in short games on a regulation-sized pitch.

Both men and women were invited to the Olympics, which apparently gave promoters in the United States an idea. The concept is an extended Sevens format which, instead of featuring multiple teams playing short games in a pool/bracket format, features two clubs of 16 to 21 players playing a 48-minute game. This “Super Sevens” format would come to the U.S. next year through an exhibition tour, with six franchises across the U.S. in 2019.

The twist is that each franchise would have to field both a men’s and a women’s team. We don’t know whether this would mean that both games would be played on the same night as a doubleheader or whether the six women’s teams would have a certain autonomy similar to women’s soccer to schedule as they see fit.

The American Super Sevens effort comes at a propitous time for the game; the States will be hosting a English Premiership regular-season game in September, and will be hosting the Rugby Sevens World Cup next year in San Francisco.

It’s also rumored that Houston is going to be the new home of a Pro12 Rugby franchise. The Pro12 league is a professional multinational competition featuring teams from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Italy.

But somehow, that rings as oddly as having an NFL franchise stationed permanently in London. The expenses could bankrupt a backer, a sponsor, a TV partner, or even an entire league if care isn’t exercised.