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World Rugby has put out a report that states 63-percent of rugby fans in Asia, North America, South America and Africa became interested in the sport due to discovery of the "shorter form" (read: sevens) of rugby. Much of this new interest stemmed from the inclusion of Sevens for Women and Men in the 2016 Summer Rio Olympics.
However, there are no current data that indicate a parallel appreciation of the traditional game. The division of rugby offerings has created a challenge for World Rugby, which seeks global expansion and growth mainly, through fifteen-a-side rugby union.
This successful commercial model for this two-sport form exists currently in international cricket. Formerly, nations played long, and often boring three-day Test matches. Then came the introduction in 2003 of Twenty20, originally played in England versus Wales. In Twenty20, two teams have single innings each, which is restricted to a maximum of 20 overs (batting appearances). A single day's match with a guaranteed outcome proved a fan favorite and, as important, was ideal for television.
Originally, Twenty20 started with clubs playing clubs, and, eventually, expanded to nations. The International Cricket Board would like this faster form to become a future Olympic sport.
The proliferation of Sevens in the USA during the past decade can be traced to multiple events, beginning with the USA Sevens (San Diego, 2007,2008, 2009, and Las Vegas, 2010 to the present), the Penn Mutual Insurance College Rugby Championship 2009, the Rio Olympics in 2016, and the media publicity of Men's Eagles' players; Baker, Isles, Hughes, Test, and Barrett. The Women Sevens Eagles also generated newfound rugby publicity with coverage about Tapper, Thomas, Kelter, and Emba. Finally, college sevens sides have increased geometrically in the past ten-years, offering the faster game to springtime schedules.
So what's the future for pay to play rugby in the USA, including television coverage on cable networks? This first year of Major League Rugby has not yet publicized attendance among the seven original teams. And, what were the ratings from the multiple source cable television airings of the MLR matches?
Finally, Jon Prusmack, CEO of United World Sports (Las Vegas Sevens, College Rugby Championship, Rugby Today), has introduced an innovative sevens rugby concept called Super Sevens. This format would play sevens in four quarters (half Men, half Women) like basketball. Super Sevens is actively seeking investors to fund a new league. Could Super Sevens be to rugby what Twenty20 is to cricket?