Dates confirmed for 2018 Rugby World Sevens in San Francisco

HONG KONG (AP) " The dates for the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco were confirmed on Saturday as July 20-22, avoiding a clash with the soccer World Cup in Russia.

The tournament, which will be played by 24 men's teams and 16 women's sides, will be played at AT&T Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants Major League Baseball team.

The U.S. has never hosted a Rugby World Cup before but World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont, speaking to reporters during the Hong Kong Sevens, said he was confident the event would be a huge success after the surge of interest in the sport since it was featured at last year's Rio Olympics.

"On the back of Rio we feel that Sevens will just be getting stronger and stronger," Beaumont said.

'The U.S.A. is a vast market, it's a huge market, the biggest commercial sporting market on the globe. We would be negligent if we didn't look at U.S.A."

The timing of the tournament was strategically decided to avoid overlapping with the soccer World Cup, which will be held in Russia from June 14-July 15, although Beaumont said he expected both tournaments would attract the same fans.

"We realise that obviously the FIFA World Cup is a massive event but we're not concerned about competing with them, we are confident with our product and the market we're aiming at," he said.

"And there will be a crossover between sports nuts, like myself, who will watch anything and go to anything."

World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper said the appetite for Sevens Rugby, which is shorter and faster than traditional 15-a-side rugby, made it perfect ready-made event for TV in the sport's developing markets, like North America.

"During the Olympics, the NBC ratings were far higher than they predicted," he said.

"As a spectacle, it actually did much better in the United States than most other viewing markets in terms of audiences.

"So there's a prepared audience already that's quite hungry for a big event like the World Cup in San Francisco."

USA Rugby CEO Dan Payne also predicted the tournament would bit a huge hit with US sports fans. "This event will bring the world's best and put them in front of a large audience of rugby fanatics in the U.S., showcasing our great sport to a new batch of sports fans," he said in a statement.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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