HSBC Sevens World Series core team Spain headlines the list of 12 confirmed teams for this year’s Safari Sevens taking place from November 9-11 at Nairobi’s RFUEA Ground.
The 11th-placed finishers at the close of the 2017/18 season will be joined in Nairobi by Iberian neighbours and former core side Portugal.
Other teams that will play in Nairobi include British sides Apache Sevens, Red Wailers and Samurai Sevens, South African side Cobras, Uganda, Namibia, Kenyan sides Morans and Shujaa, Burkina Faso and Kenyan club sevens champions Homeboyz who won the Stanbic Bank National Sevens Circuit in September.
This year’s tournament takes on a 12-team format, similar to that used at the Olympic Games and Rugby World Cup Sevens competitions.
The Safari Sevens Organising Committee will unveil the tournament pools and order of play in the next few days.
Safari Sevens confirmed teams: Spain, Portugal, Apache 7s, Red Wailers, Samurai 7s, Cobras, Uganda, Namibia, Morans, Shujaa, Burkina Faso, Homeboyz.
Rugby sevens in Southern and East Africa has gained much-deserved momentum over the recent years and, with it, drawing in more and more spectators, many of whom are international tourists.
According to Judy Lain, Wesgro’s Chief Marketing Officer, rugby sevens has definitely gained popularity over the recent years, pulling in large crowds coming to spectate.
Coralie van den Berg, General Manager of World Rugby African Association, Rugby Africa, explains that increasingly more tournaments are being developed by unions, especially in Southern and Easy Africa in partnership with sponsors and broadcasters and, in turn, are contributing to the enhanced popularity of the game.
This was reiterated by Glen Clement Sinkamba, Zambia Rugby Union President, in a statement: “Our partnerships with other unions across Africa have started yielding results.”
Van den Berg says the Cape Town Sevens, which is part of the World Series, sells out in a couple of hours, attracting huge crowds, with smaller events across Africa attracting various crowd sizes.
The size of the crowd depends on how well the event is promoted and commercialised, according to Van den Berg. “Typically in Southern Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe have the biggest fan base for sevens.”
Further proof of this, was with the success of the recent Zambia International Sevens in September at the Polo Club in Lusaka, according to Sinkamba.
“The Safari Sevens tournament in Nairobi, Kenya, used to attract 20 000+ spectators,” says Van den Berg: “Sevens is hugely popular in Kenya.”