The Grand Prix sevens tournament to take place in Los Angeles in July this summer, will contain a team from every top tier nation, will contain NFL players and will have a $1,000,000 prize purse In At The Side learned today.
The tournament, to be held at the home depot centre in LA has been organised by giant multi-media and production company Grand Prix Entertainment in conjunction with USA rugby. Grand Prix will work worth the NFL broadcaster and the tournament will receive 10 hours of prime time television viewing in the United States during the three days that it takes place from the 12th-14th July.
The grand plans, set to be unveiled formally at an official press conference at the HSBC Las Vegas sevens leg , will also reveal Grand Prix’s desire to broadcast the tournament across 100 different countries.
Ceo and Chariman of Grand Prix rugby Bill Tatham said: “When we decided to create this competition back in 2005, we wanted to do it the American way, which means big bucks and first class all the way.
“We wanted to create an opportunity that was stupid to turn down.
“I saw sevens as a homerun. It has short and exciting matches, with a wider demographic than the fifteen a side game.
“I wouldn’t even try to market the fifteen a side game in America.”
Whilst Tatham first cast his astute business eye on sevens, long before it was announced in the Olympics (October 2009), the announcement has fuelled his enthusiasm.
“This tournament and market sevens is something we have been working hard on for a number of years now. You have to get the money right first to attract the players though.
“The players won’t play for free. You have to understand that players won’t just play for the flag over here, they play for the money first. Could you imagine NFL clubs being told they’ll be without their players because they will be away on international duty?—Never!
“Can you imagine if we can attract some of the athletes we have over here to play the game though? I can assure you that by 2016 the USA could have a ball-busting team!”
It has also been revealed that as well as the top tier teams, there will also be teams from India, China and Russia—three nations that Tatham cites as three serious markets.
There will also be four American teams, one of which will contain real USA sevens players and three others which will contain something a little different.
Mr Tatham added: “Three of the teams will be 100% All American and NFL players. Obviously they will be behind in terms of rugby skills, which will make them huge underdogs, but as athletes they will be bigger and better.
“We chose this date as it is during the Football (American) and sevens off season. It is an opportunity to attract these new athletes to the sport.”
These revelations come after yesterday’s news that New Zealand will send a ‘development team’ to the tournament that will contain contracted players.
A slightly more reserved Chief Executive Officer and President of Rugby Operations for USA rugby, former England scrum half, Wasps and Gloucester coach Nigel Melville confirmed the validity of the tournament.
Melville said: “We have over 20 teams that will be coming. They will not be full international teams, but they will be from nations across the world. I can confirm that teams from Europe will be in that number”
By Mike Dolan