VANCOUVER – Rugby Canada is bidding to host an annual Vancouver stop on the IRB HSBC Sevens World Series starting in 2016.
The bid was announced at a news conference Wednesday featuring Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, Rugby Canada chairman Pat Aldous and CEO Graham Brown, IRB Hall of Famer and former Canadian captain Gareth Rees, event bid committee co-chair John Furlong, members of the Canadian national team and Steve Thomson, a former Canadian rugby international who is B.C.’s minister of forests, lands and natural resource.
The event would be held indoors at B.C. Place.
“Rugby in Canada has grown rapidly since I played and with this event I see us emerging now as a new international force,” said Rees, who is also a committee co-chair. “I am so excited to see rugby sevens showcased at the Olympic Games and hope the road to Rio 2016 for Canada runs right through Vancouver.”
In March, the International Rugby Board confirmed that 25 national governing bodies had formally confirmed their interest in hosting a round of the sevens series in the 2015-16 season. Canada was one of the 25 interested parties.
“This unprecedented response truly reflects the enormous prestige and appeal of rugby sevens in the global sporting market place ahead of our Rio 2016 Olympic Games debut,” IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset said at the time.
“The submission features a blend of interest from every continent and includes existing and emerging Rugby markets. It reaffirms rugby sevens as a young, exciting and thriving sport that is reaching out, engaging and inspiring new audiences around the world.”
Fourteen of those associations — but not Canada — were also interested in hosting the men’s and women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2018.
The IRB deadline for formal tender submissions for hosting a sevens World Series tournament is Friday. The 2015-16 Series hosts will be selected by an IRB committee in October 2014.
The 2014-15 men’s World Series features stops in Australia, Dubai, South Africa, New Zealand, the U.S., Hong Kong, Japan, Scotland and England. The U.S. stop is in Las Vegas.
The Canadian men finished a record sixth in the 2013-14 season standings.
There were five stops on the women’s sevens circuit in 2013-14: Dubai, U.S., China, Brazil and the Netherlands. Canada finished third.