Can a professional rugby sevens league take off in the United States? We may find out in a couple of years.
United World Sports has organized a test match between the New York Rhinos and the Ontario Blues for Saturday, right before the Collegiate Rugby Championship at PPL Park in Philadelphia.
Jonathan First, president of United World Sports, says the exhibition is being held as a trial run, with the ultimate goal being creating a pro league for the “elongated form” of the blossoming sevens rugby format, which differs from the traditional 15s rugby. The notable differences between the two leagues is rugby sevens uses seven players as opposed to 15, and the matches are shorter.
“It’s a big deal for us,” First tells The Score. “Sevens rugby is very fast-paced. It’s like one fast break after the next, one option play after the next. It’s phenomenally geared toward an American audience.”
The development of the league coincides with the build-up toward the 2016 Olympics in Rio, where rugby sevens will be included for the first time ever. It also marks the first time any form of rugby has been an Olympic sport since 1924.
The league likely will start in 2016 and will have 12 teams, 10 based in the U.S. and two in Canada, all in “major cities.” First says there are talks to partner with Major League Soccer stadiums as host venues.
“We have a lot of interested parties coming from team owners, investors, television networks to look at this,” he said. “We’ve already done a lot of groundwork. We believe logistically to get everything in place at least a good year, but this big first step … is probably the key step to get this thing documented, played — whether we have to tweak the game, we’ll see — what kind of interest we have going forward, and we’ll move forward from there.”
Source: Daily News