Rugby: Singapore to host World Rugby Sevens Series from next year

SINGAPORE - Rugby fans, rejoice: Singapore has been confirmed as a host of a leg of the prestigious World Rugby Sevens Series for the next four seasons, starting next year.

The Sports Hub in Kallang will play host to heavyweights like New Zealand, Australia and England over the two-day extravaganza, expected to be in early April.

Singapore joins Vancouver, Sydney, Cape Town and Paris as new stops on the expanded 10-leg series, with Tokyo, Port Elizabeth, Gold Coast and Glasgow making way. The eight-month-long competition features the world's top 16 national teams playing the shorter and faster sevens rugby, which will make its Olympics debut next year.

The Straits Times reported in November that Singapore was successful in its bid to re-stage the series, which was held at the old National Stadium from 2002 to 2006.

World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "The World Rugby Sevens Series continues to go from strength to strength, proving a hit with fans, broadcasters and sponsors around the globe with its winning blend of compelling and competitive action, global destinations and festival atmosphere.

"As a major tourism and business destination, Singapore's inclusion on the Series is great news for fans and great news for rugby as the sport continues to experience record growth ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympics."

Sevens rugby is widely viewed as a money-spinner for host cities. A 2012 report by the Hong Kong Tourism Board revealed that tourists spent an average of HK$12,873 (S$2,100) during the 2011 Hong Kong Sevens, with the direct economic benefit to the city totalling HK$282 million.

nsanjay@sph.com.sg