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Eight teams confirmed for rugby union's 'biggest prize'

By Ian Cameron
France's William Iraguha and Stephen Parez-Edo Martin celebrate a try against South Africa on day one of the HSBC France Sevens at Stade Toulousain on 12 May, 2023 in Toulouse, France. Photo credit: Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby

Eight leading international Rugby Sevens teams are gearing up to compete for what will be the most lucrative prize fund in the sport this July in New York.

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The newly created World Rugby Football League’s (WRFL) $1 million NYC Champion Sevens, sanctioned by USA Rugby, promises to bring an international-style rugby festival to the Big Apple.

The $1 million dollar prize fund makes it the biggest financial carrot in the sport and one that has proved enticing to the international unions. The All Blacks Sevens team, Australia 7s, the Blitzboks, the USA Sevens team, France, Ireland, Fiji and Kenya have all been listed as participating.

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The day-long event will showcase 16 fast-paced, 14-minute games, keeping spectators on the edge of their seats. Broadcasted live on ESPN +, the WRFL will offer a pay-per-view tournament package, providing rugby enthusiasts with an unparalleled, all-live, all-access experience.

Ross Young, CEO of USA Rugby, expressed the team’s excitement, stating, “There is much excitement from the USA camp as we confirm our participation in the NYC Sevens later this summer. A lot of buzz has been building into this event, and we look forward to seeing it come to life, offering another opportunity for USA fans to get out and support the squad.”

Australian Sevens head coach John Manenti says: “It’s with great excitement that the Australian men’s sevens team heads to New York City to be part of the first million-dollar sevens tournament. A great city, a great venue, and the best teams in the world will make for some fantastic rugby and entertainment for all sports lovers.”

James Topping, Ireland men’s sevens head coach, emphasized the significance of the tournament for his team, saying, “We are excited to be taking part in the inaugural NYC Champion Sevens this summer. This new and unique tournament will help bring our game to a wide range of new audiences, and with plenty of Irish support expected in Manhattan in July, it is a brilliant opportunity for our squad to be exposed to high-level competition.”

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The WRFL Commissioner William Tatham, Esq., expressed the league’s commitment to promoting rugby in the United States, stating, “The RFL is committed to USA Rugby and World Rugby, and is honored to kick off league play showcasing these great World Rugby teams and players. Where better to make rugby history and launch America’s newest major league than New York City, America’s largest and greatest sports market.”

The RFL has ambitious plans for the future, aiming to expand into the top sixteen U.S. media markets over the next six years. The league plans to produce and distribute a range of sports, entertainment, and gaming content. The 2023 premiere NYC Champion Sevens will mark the beginning of this journey, with the league’s innovative smart-start targeting the expansion of two playoff tournaments leading to the highly anticipated 2024 RFL Champion Sevens.

As the anticipation grows and the countdown to the NYC Champion Sevens begins, rugby fans worldwide are eagerly awaiting the spectacle that awaits them in the heart of New York City.

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