Dubai: Dubai, the first leg of the 10-stage HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, is the perfect place to pick up from where rugby sevens left off after its Olympic debut this summer, according to World Rugby Sevens tournament director Douglas Langley.
The sport has 16.83 million new fans since Rio 2016, propelling it to 300 million fans worldwide, according to a study from Nielsen Sports, who surveyed six markets after the Games to gauge the Olympic impact on sevens.
They found that out of all the Olympic sports this summer, rugby got the biggest lift from its involvement (in terms of new fans) with a four per cent increase.
The trick now is to maintain that, and Langley said Dubai — the sport’s first port of call since Rio — was the best place to build upon this growth.
“Dubai is the linchpin going forward in terms of capitalising on the success of the Olympics,” he said.
“To hold these new fans we need to keep innovating and developing our delivery to spectators and viewers, while improving the playing environment for teams so that they can perform to the best of their abilities.
“We are in that synergy of improving everything for everybody and obviously this weekend is important, we don’t want to lose the momentum we’ve been building since Rio.
“Dubai is a great event to start off, it’s so established (this is the 47th edition, but the 17th since the foundation of the World Series).
“We look to develop details and with local organisers and our own operations team we are very excited and confident of creating a bigger and better spectacle this weekend for the rest of the series to build upon even more.”
Sevens was made an Olympic sport in 2009 for two provisional appearances at Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, but there remains a vote next summer to decide whether it remains in the Olympic fold beyond that.
Langley sounded confident it would be made a permanent feature based upon the success of this summer’s debut.
“The goal set was to be seen as one of the best team sports as we needed to establish ourselves worthy of continuing.
“We haven’t got the statistics yet but the subjective feedback was that we were one of the best sports events.”
In terms of social media rugby sevens generated more total engagements (11.02 million) across social media than any other sporting bodies combined. And over 100 broadcasters have since come on board as a result of rugby seven’s Olympic involvement.