Three new venues in Australia, South Africa and Scotland plus a new tournament in Tokyo Japan.
These were some of the changes we saw during the 2011/12 HSBC Sevens World Series as the world’s newest and most exciting Olympic sport prepares for the Rio Games.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset this week sang the praises of yet another record-breaking HSBC Sevens World Series.
New attendance record
Once again the Series as a whole set a new attendance record with just over 547,500 fans supporting the nine events played across five continents, outstripping the previous best of 500,100.
There were four new venues on the 2011/12 Series, all of which proved an instant hit with supporters. Australia’s move to the Gold Coast was well supported at the start of the season; Port Elizabeth’s Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium provided a cauldron of atmosphere in South Africa; Scotland’s switch from Edinburgh to Glasgow’s Scotstoun Stadium attracted new fans to the game and a return to Tokyo’s Prince Chichubu Stadium was significant for Japanese rugby as it prepares to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
“This has been a magnificent season of achievement for Rugby Sevens both on and off the pitch,” said IRB Chairman, Bernard Lapasset (pictured above)
“The action has been more competitive than ever before, with five different Cup winners and no fewer than thirteen teams reaching the Cup quarter finals, including the likes of Spain, Canada, Tonga and Kenya.
“In the stands and around the grounds the carnival atmosphere of a Sevens tournament continues to provide a unique appeal to rugby fans all around the world. Together these factors combine to make the sport an incredibly enticing prospect as we move ever closer to our Olympic debut in 2016.”
This season also hailed the rise of some of the non-core nations. In Hong Kong earlier this year, we saw Canada, Spain and Portugal qualify for an expanded (15 teams up from 12) Series next season.
Some images of the Blitzbokke fans in Port Elizabeth:
BlitzBokke.com has collected hundreds of images throughout the 2011/12 season. Click here to go to our Flickr Album to view them.