Argentina inclusion exciting for Sevens Rugby
Last month the IRB ended months of speculation by announcing the further expansion of the HSBC Sevens World Series, the flagship event for the men's Rugby Sevens Game.
Argentina is set to join as a 10th venue on the upcoming 2012/13 Series, the latest part of an ever-evolving strategic masterplan around the Olympic form of the Game.
"It is an exciting development for the Series, it is 10 years since we have had a tournament in South America and we are now taking the Series to 10 different locations around the world and six different continents," said Mark Egan, the board's Head of Development and Performance.
"Argentina have played a huge role in the development of Sevens over many years, we were there with the Series in 2002, and it is very timely we go back to South America, especially with the Olympics in 2016 in Rio.
"It is important we grow the profile of Sevens in the region, we are already seeing significant growth in Brazil, and one of the biggest things for Argentina will be to link in with the Rugby family in Brazil as well to grow the game of Sevens. We are going to a new stadium in La Plata, it is a fantastic venue and worthy of hosting this magnificent event."
These are exciting times for Argentina. Los Pumas are due to kick off for the first time in annual competition against New Zealand, South Africa and Australia and hosting a round of the record-breaking Sevens Series is a further coup.
"Argentina have wanted to come back on the Series for a number of years but, due to the financial crisis over there, they were not in a position to host," added Egan. "But things have improved and the fact they have this venue in La Plata available, we have seen it timely to consider it over the last 12 months. We have been working very closely with the Union, and HSBC as the title sponsor see South America as very important to them so they are fully behind it.
"From a playing perspective it is important for us, and has been for the past six years of the Strategic Investment Programme, to work with Argentina, help develop their structures.
"You see a number of players coming through the Sevens programme to the Pumas and again this helps them cement their Sevens programme, which will continue to produce players who will go through to the 15s as well.
"We didn't have a tournament in South America and it is important we are there. We are seeing significant growth in their playing numbers, 25% growth in the past four years, and with Sevens taking its place in the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016 it is important we put this event and one of the fastest growing properties in world rugby back in the continent.
"It is an exciting time for Argentina, they are entering the Rugby Championship this year as well so, combined with hosting a World Series tournament, this will give them the platform to not only grow the playing numbers, continue to grow their numbers and prove their competitiveness and also to give them an opportunity to host a major commercial event. Hopefully they will be able to raise revenue from it which they will invest back into the game."
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