SINGAPORE - The crowd numbers took a hit last year, falling some 35 per cent to 34,000, but Rugby Singapore (RS) is not too concerned.
In fact, the organiser of the HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens has set a crowd target of 60,000 for this year's event at the National Stadium from April 28-29, which will surpass the previous high of 52,000 in 2016.
"We're looking at doubling last year's numbers and, while we are optimistic and we want to fill the stadium, we don't want to be overconfident," said David Lim, chairman of RS, the commercial arm of the Singapore Rugby Union.
The 46-year-old revealed that in 35 days of sales thus far, numbers have hit 70 per cent of what it was after 70 days of sales last year.
Last year's edition was played over the Easter weekend, which might have accounted for the low crowd numbers.
In 2016, the HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens had to compete with badminton's OUE Singapore Open which was held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. This year's event may not clash with badminton or holidays, but it is close to examination dates for schools.
There is more at stake this year as RS has to submit a bid by Feb 28 to host a leg of World Rugby's HSBC Sevens Series for the next four-year cycle starting in 2020. World Rugby will make a decision in May after the Singapore leg and Lim wants to boost the Republic's case by introducing new features this year that will form part of the bid.
New initiatives such as engaging local clubs and touring teams to play in a 10s competition on the sidelines of the Sevens, improving the food experience at the event and increasing the value of each ticket by working with merchants and restaurants to give deals to ticket holders, will be implemented.
"The food component, fringe events and greater ticket value are three things which will definitely strengthen our bid," said Lim.
"We want to demonstrate to World Rugby and stakeholders that Singapore should be a temple of the Series."