Since the Australian Women’s Sevens team defeated New Zealand at the inaugural Olympic Rugby Sevens competition, the rugby community in Australia has been on a high. Despite World Cups and World Series in sports, many outsiders still view a Gold Medal as the pinnacle of sporting endeavour. As is so often the case, those not a part of sport will sit up and take more notice when Olympic Gold begins to shine. Australian Sevens impact is already being felt.
Australian Sevens Already Making A Golden Impact
Gold Medals a Corporate Dream
Rugby in Australia is often forced to play second fiddle to the more dominant codes of Rugby League and Australian Rules, when it comes to commercial deals. The Australian Wallabies generate the necessary sponsorship however, this is often not enough to trickle down to the grassroots.
With a large population and a separation between watching sport and active participation, there needs to be a a successful model to get fans ‘off the couch’. After the success of the women’s sevens team in Rio, now is the ideal time to engage the audience.
Foxtel VIVA7s to Bring sevens to the People
Pay-TV provider Foxtel has now partnered with the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) on the Foxtel VIVA7s program. VIVA7s was launched last year by the ARU in anticipation of the introduction of Sevens into the Olympics.
Currently there are 3,000 boys, girls, women and men playing the sport. It is a non-contact version of Sevens Rugby and is designed to be inclusive for all ages. The three-year partnership between Foxtel and the ARU will see the sport put in the spotlight outside the traditional ‘rugby heartlands’.
Melbourne has already been a target-market, through a relationship with the Melbourne Rebels. Registration centres are located in all states; apart from Tasmania. The growth of VIVA7s may go hand-in-hand with the success of the Olympic Sevens program.
Committed to Sport
Foxtel will look to assist rugby develop in Australia. Deanne Weir, Managing Director ‘Content Aggregation & Wholesale’ was keen to emphasize Foxtel’s commitment to grassroots sport;
At Foxtel we are committed to supporting sport throughout Australia. Foxtel are proud to have joined forces with ARU for the next three years to help bring the Foxtel VIVA7s game to life.
Rugby can only profit from this relationship, as it will see its exposure greatly increase on the national stage. The fast paced, end-to-end action of Sevens is replicated within VIVA7s.
ARU General Manager of ‘Community, Rugby & Strategy’ Andrew Larratt stressed the importance of incorporating that into the game;
“VIVA7s is fun and really easy to play. Best of all, just like Rugby Sevens, it’s a game where there are always plenty of try-scoring opportunities. So Australians young and old can experience the thrill of crossing the line to score a try.”
Australian Sevens Golden Girls to Thank
Rugby in Australia may well look to the Rio Olympics in the future and see that this was the turning-point for the sport. For that, rugby will have the Australian Women’s team to thank for much of that. Their injection of the game into the Australian sporting psyche has been widely felt. The manner in which the likes of Charlotte Caslick, Alicia Quirk, and Ellia Green were taken to the hearts of the nation, can only have positive repercussions for the future.
The announcement of this partnership with Foxtel is surely just the beginning of a bright future. Today, the Men’s and the Women’s Sevens side will still be soaking up the Olympic spirit in Brazil. But on their return, they will have huge roles to play in shaping the development of rugby in Australia.
All quotes and VIVA7s information courtesy of ARU Media Release.
“Main photo credit”