Cape Town – South African rugby fans will see the best sevens rugby stars in action on 7 and 8 December in the iconic Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth after the International Rugby Boardâ€™s (IRB) on Tuesday confirmed dates for the upcoming 2012/13 HSBC Sevens World Series.
In another exciting development, the IRB also announced the further expansion of the Sevens World Series, with Argentina joining the popular series as a 10th venue.
Following its inaugural success at the new Eastern Cape-based venue last season, the Nelson Mandela Bay South Africa Sevens will again host rugbyâ€™s biggest party, with two days of fast-paced action, top-class match-day entertainment and a music concert on the Friday night featuring some of South Africaâ€™s most popular bands.
The decision to include Argentina in the World Series was approved by the IRB Executive Committee and reflects the strong global demand to host one of the hottest properties in sport – a round of the record-breaking, crowd-pleasing series – as Rugby Sevens counts down to its Olympic Games debut in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
La Plata will play host to the finest Sevens players on the planet for the second round of the upcoming Series on 20-21 October 2012, one week after the Gold Coast Sevens kicks off the new season in Australia. A stellar 2012/13 Sevens season will be further enhanced by Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in Moscow on June 28-30, while the inaugural IRB Women’s Sevens Series will also kick off.
Argentinaâ€™s addition to the list of global hot spots signals the return of the series to South America for the first time since 2002. It also means that every continent now hosts at least one round of the Sevens World Series with tournaments in Africa (1), Asia (3), Europe (2), Oceania (2), North America (1) and South America (1).
The announcement comes at an exciting time for the series and for Argentina with the South Americans set to make their Rugby Championship debut next month alongside Australia, South Africa and Rugby World Cup 2011 champions New Zealand.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: â€œI am delighted that Argentina is joining the impressive list of spectacular global destinations that comprise the record-breaking Sevens World Series.
â€œThese are exciting times for South America, where participation has grown by 25 per cent in the last four years owing to the prestige and profile of Rugby World Cup, the IRB and CONSUR’s investment and development strategies and Olympic Games inclusion.
â€œArgentina continues to be the beating heart of the South American success story and we very much look forward to working in partnership with the Argentine Rugby Union and the Argentina government to deliver an event that will capture hearts and minds, benefit Rugby throughout the Region and mark another significant milestone as we countdown to Sevens’ Olympic Games debut in Rio in 2016.â€?
The IRB is committed to the development of rugby across the Americas and is investing US$13.94m in Argentina and South America between 2009 and 2012 in development, high performance and tournament programmes. The awarding of this tournament is a key step in the process.
New Argentine Union board member and IRB Council member Agustin Pichot said: â€œThese are extremely exciting times for Argentina, which is a hugely passionate rugby country. Los Pumas are due to compete shoulder-to-shoulder against the three finest teams in the world and now our rugby family can also look forward to welcoming the wonderful Sevens World Series to La Plata.
â€œA decade has passed since the World Series last visited South America and I am sure the players and fans are all looking forward to a massive carnival of rugby, just four years out from Rio 2016. We look forward to welcoming everyone here for what I am sure will be a memorable experience.â€?
Argentina’s inclusion also signals the second expansion of the World Series since HSBC was appointed title sponsor, following Rugby Sevens’ Olympic Games inclusion.
Giles Morgan, Group Head of Sponsorship and Events, HSBC Holdings explained that since HBSC’s involvement in the Sevens World Series, attendance has grown by almost 100 000 fans to 547 500 for the 2011/12 season, and broadcast coverage has reached record levels around the world.
Sevens World Series 2012/13 schedule:
Round 1: October 13/14, 2012 – Australia (Gold Coast)
Round 2: October 20/21, 2012 – Argentina (La Plata)
Round 3: November 30 â€“ December 1, 2012 – Dubai
Round 4: December 7/8, 2012 – South Africa (Port Elizabeth)
Round 5: February 1/2, 2013 – New Zealand (Wellington)
Round 6: February 8-10, 2013 – USA (Las Vegas)
Round 7: March 22-24, 2013 – Hong Kong
Round 8: March 30/31, 2013 – Japan (Tokyo)
Round 9: May 4/5, 2013 – Scotland (Glasgow)
Round 10: May 11/12, 2013 – England (London)
Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013: June 28-30, 2013 â€“ Moscow (Russia)