The Rugby Sevens World Cup will be held this year in Moscowâs 40,000 seat Luzhniki stadium on 28th to 30th June. For the uninitiated Rugby sevens is a version of the Rugby Union game played with seven players instead of the fifteen of the standard game.
It is extremely fast and athletic and entertaining to watch. The tournament lasts over three days with twenty four menâs and sixteen womenâs national teams competing for the trophy. Australia, England, France, New Zealand and the cup holders Wales, all major Rugby nations, qualified. Russia, as host nation, and Georgia will also take part along with other teams from Europe, North and South America and the Asian Pacific.
Preparations are already well underway and there will be lots of excitement both on and off the field. The World Cup Sevens tournament always attracts an influx of fans from abroad and the event in Moscow will be no exception. The Russian Rugby Union also expects a sizeable turnout from the local fans as the game here is fast growing in popularity. There is always a good party atmosphere at the ground with music, food and drink both during, after and in-between games.
Tickets are already on sale at very reasonable prices. The British Business Club in Russia is a hospitality partner at the event and has its own enclosed VIP area in the stadium overlooking the halfway line. âWe expect a good turnout from visitors from overseas as well as from the local expat community. We are already seeing a lot of interest from companies looking at corporate packages for their guests and at the opportunities for sponsorshipâ, Don Scott, President of the British Business Club, told Moscow expat Life. The games will be televised live to a massive audience worldwide.
British citizen Howard Thomas has been appointed Vice President of the Rugby Union of Russia and Deputy MD of the Rugby Sevens World Cup 2013. Howard has been involved with Russian Rugby for 7 years. Moscow expat Life talks to him about Russian rugby in general, and the forthcoming Rugby Sevens World Cup.
What is the importance of Rugby Sevens World Cup event coming up this year in Russia?
The Rugby Sevens World Cup 2013 to be held in Russia in June of this year is of tremendous importance to the cause of rugby in this country. We have recently had three major events which have encouraged rugby in Russia. Firstly, when rugby went Olympic, which heightened its importance in Russia, secondly when Russia qualified for the Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand, and thirdly when we won the world hosting rights for the Rugby World Cup Sevens to be held later this year from the 28-30th of June. The World Cup is a magnificent global event that has come to Moscow. Itâs going to be a great party, a great event, itâs something that the expat and Russian market will want to engage in, because it is memorable and these kind of events with rugby which is a fast growing sport, donât come round very often. We are very fortunate to be hosting it this year, and I think it will be great fun for everybody to get engaged in this.
What is the importance of Rugby Sevens in Russia?
We have two sports, Rugby Fifteens and Rugby Sevens. The Rugby Union of Russia passionately follows both forms. Rugby Fifteens is the primary form of the sport which is played all over the world. Teams compete for participation in the Rugby World Cup, the last one was in New Zealand, and the next one will be held in 2015 in England. Rugby Sevens is a shorter form of the sport, and probably much easier to understand and take up. Rugby Sevens has now been accepted as an Olympic sport. The Sevens is probably the form of the sport that most players find the easiest to use as an introduction to rugby, before deciding whether they want to play Fifteens or Sevens or potentially even both.
Are the people who take part in Rugby Sevens in Russia amateurs or professionals?
We have an interesting structure in Russia, which I consider to be very good. Effectively, the foundation of the sport is what I call after-school rugby clubs. Basically the Russian school sports system operates at the end of an academic day, where boys go to generic sports schools, or sports schools which specialize in football or ice-hockey. We have 110 such schools in Russia that specialize in rugby. So we have a very good, strong youth base of boys who are coming into the sport, and these boys are taught both Rugby Fifteens and Sevens. Boys who have ambitions to become professional rugby players graduate from these schools, and join professional teams in our âSuper League.â Equally, we now have amateur competitions or amateur clubs that play on a regional, inter-regional and then on a national basis. So there are many ways that people can play rugby, but what is true is that we have a professional league where men and women play both fifteen and seven-a-side rugby.
What is the role that the British Business Club (BBC) and foreigners can play in the Rugby Union, and why?
The British Business Club is one of the nationality business clubs that exist around Moscow. There are many such clubs but I think itâs fair to say that the BBC has been a long term supporter working with us, trying to engage support into Russian rugby. The Rugby World Cup Sevens which we are hosting at the end of June is the primary Sevens event in the global game before the Olympics. So it has by definition an international appeal. The BBC do a fantastic job in organizing for its members a lot of social events, and are helping us organizing corporate hospitality for the Rugby World Cup on the 28-30th of June for companies who wish to be part for one of the biggest and best sporting events in the world.
What message would you like to give Moscow expat Life readers?
Do not hesitate to contact the Ruby Union of Russia, or the BBC for help with how to engage with this particular event.
+7 915 176 4683
BBC rugby website:
Howard Thomas email:
The World Cup Sevens web site is:Â www.worldcupsevens.com