Two-time World Rugby sevens player of the year Perry Baker has called for an “all-star tournament” on Twitter. The United States star mooted this idea to World Rugby Sevens on social media during the game’s suspension due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but has not gone into great depth. His USA teammate Ben Pinkelman also seems keen on this novel idea as well.
@WorldRugby7s we need to have a all-star tournament ….
— Perry Baker (@SpeedSt11ck) May 4, 2020
With rugby around the world currently suspended, as it has been for over a month now, there will be huge financial repercussions from this crisis, which will affect many aspects of the sport. Unions are expected to struggle, and the game of sevens as a whole faces an uncertain future. Such an idea by Baker is a good way to generate interest in the game when it returns, as it would undoubtedly be an enticing prospect.
The notion of all-star games is not something that is particularly rife in rugby, although such exhibition matches have been played in the past. There was once a fixture between the north and south islands in New Zealand, which was contested many times over the course of a century. There has also been a northern hemisphere versus southern hemisphere match, competed in 2005 for Rugby Aid, and was repeated again in 2011. Of course, the Barbarians and the British and Irish Lions are two other traditions in rugby that buy into an all-star format, although slightly different, as well as rugby league’s State of Origin series within the NRL.
Conversely, almost all popular sports in the USA have the concept of an all-star game each season, and Baker is drawing upon his experience at home to influence World Rugby. There are indeed some logistical complications in making such a contest in both sevens and 15s, but there is nonetheless support for it from the USA team.
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