It got into the Olympic Games.
October 2009, the IOC says, “Let’s go.” Americans follow sport one of two ways. We go college to pro,
and/or the Olympics. So rugby sat in the middle of that. Now it’s got into the Olympic Games,
Americans are stepping up to it. The added bonus at this tournament
is all these other 15 countries and all the expats
from across the US come in, and people want to come to Vegas, too,
to watch it. Every 20 minutes there is another game,
so it’s perfect for our attention span! The HSBC Sevens World Series
is now a significant event in the rugby calendar. HSBC is the sponsor of Global Sevens. We should be proud we are pushing
for a sport that is growing so fast. It started in 1999 and has evolved now
to nine tournaments across the world. It’s connecting a lot of people and
that’s what the HSBC spirit is all about. First year, it was across two days,
with 30,000 fans. We’d come from San Diego.
Now we’re an entire rugby week. We’ve got thousands of people
coming from abroad and tens of thousands
coming from around the US. In American terms,
it’s kind of our Omaha. I played a little bit in college.
I played 15-man rugby. At that time
we had almost no training and certainly didn’t play
in high school or club sports. Now that it’s an Olympic game, it gets
the attention of countries like the US. Rugby Sevens is the fastest-growing
sport in the US, together with lacrosse. Within 10 miles of my home
we have three different clubs where high-school kids
are learning the sport. And good coaching – foreign players
coming in and coaching the kids. It’s a much bigger deal now than
it was certainly when I was at that age. Wait! Wait! Rugby Sevens is growing in America and really fast and rapidly. So, for it to be growing that fast, it’s something special. The guys got a fantastic reception
when they ran out. It was phenomenal. The crowd is great. When you come out of that tunnel
and you hear the screams, it’s awesome.