Madrid 7’s 2021 and a week of success

Madrid 7's 2021

Madrid 7’s 2021 Week 1

With the successful hosting of the first week of the Madrid 7’s 2021, plus a win for the Spanish Women’s team in their pursuit of Rugby Union World Cup Qualification, it has been a week of success for Spanish Rugby. On the field, the Argentinan 7’s Men’s team triumphed over Kenya 21-14 in the final. For the Women’s tournament, it would be Russia who would be the victors, brushing aside France 17-5 in the final. Of note was the good showing by the USA teams, offering further hope that 7’s maybe another way into the American market.

As impressive as the action on the field was, the other area of success was in the viewing figures for the tournament on stream. The tournament was offered for viewing on twitch and on Spanish Rugby’s YouTube channel, where both days have received over 50,000 views. That may not sound like much, but both days are now in the top five most-watched videos Spanish Rugby has produced and streaming should be identified as another avenue for getting eyeballs on the sport. Nor does the action end there, as this week we have another weekend of Madrid 7’s to look forward to. If you want to catch up with the action, you can do so here.

Spanish Rugby, Streaming or TV?

As mentioned, the Spanish Women’s side swept aside Russia and look likely to be heading into the World Cup Qualification pool with the 6 Nations sides of Italy, Scotland and Ireland to find out who will be heading to New Zealand at the end of this year. Also of note was that their highest audience on Spanish TV has come when the game wasn’t broadcast live.

There was a greater audience when the game was shown not live but following a major event (athletics) that would attract viewers. Others might argue that when it comes to men’s Rugby Union World Cup qualifiers, having games live is key to enhancing the sport and developing sponsors. There is undoubtedly a ‘live’ premium that sport can offer TV companies, which Rugby Union in Spain needs to capitalise on. However, the figures above certainly open up the perspective that live streams, combined with terrestrial coverage at the time of greatest eyeballs, could offer an alternative strategy.

Jaguares in Spain?

According to numerous reports, the Argentinan Rugby Union have made initial contact about Jaguares (their de-facto national team that has participated in Super Rugby) taking part in the Pro14/16 but based out of Spain. The conversation has largely been focussed on whether it would benefit Argentina or the existing nations but little has been said as to what benefits, if any, it will deliver to Spanish Rugby.

Firstly, this problem is not of Argentina’s making. Covid has left them marooned and at risk of losing players to European leagues whilst losing the pathway for professionalism that has made Argentina a powerful force in modern Rugby Union. Nor is having a Pro team in Spain a bad idea, with Spain the biggest market in Western Europe that could be mined for the game and in easy geographical reach for the major commercial partners of Northern Hemisphere rugby.

However, if there is a commercial benefit to having a team in Spain, why shouldn’t it be a Spanish one?  If all the benefits of a professional Rugby Union team go to everyone except Spanish Rugby Union, why on earth should they allow it?

Short term, Jaguares sheltering in Europe might be a welcome boost for Spanish Rugby and if guarantees were put in place that Jaguares would go home to Super Rugby (so to speak) when they are allowed to do so, then a path could open to a Spanish team. But should countries just want to access the Spanish market, whilst not actually letting Spain play then the question that Spanish Rugby should ask itself is simple: If Spanish Rugby doesn’t get to benefit from Rugby Union in Spain, then why anyone else?

División de Honor

Games were taking place in the Spanish top flight of División de Honor this weekend. As the split had already been decided there wasn’t as much at stake this week. However, next week is the long-awaited Cup quarter-final between El Salvador of Valladolid and the Basque’s of Ordizia. Should Ordizia win, it will be the first time that the Copa del Rey Semi-Finals have not featured a team from Valladolid in over 50 years.

Whether it be domestic, Madrid 7’s or Rugby Union Women’s World Cup Qualifiers, there’s an ocean of Rugby to work your way through this weekend and with it all on stream, there’s no excuse not to enjoy it.

You can follow Edward on Twitter @HomelessEd3 and for all the information needed to watch the live streams of this week’s Rugby Union in Spain, head to FERugby.

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