Rugby World Cup Sevens Generates Positive Impact for San Francisco Bay Area | Sports Destination Management

Rugby World Cup Sevens Generates Positive Impact for San Francisco Bay Area

Mar 04, 2019

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Custom research commissioned for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 and conducted by Nielsen Sports has found that Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 generated both a positive economic and community impact on the San Francisco Bay Area.

USA Rugby and Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 event organizers brought in Nielsen Sports to analyze spending associated with the three-day in-stadium event, as well as to explore visitor and resident attitudes toward the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018, and interest in hosting future major rugby events. The latter was studied to help serve the event’s host city in its efforts to attract future marquee events to the region.

The first Rugby World Cup on American soil, Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 saw 101,000 attendees come through the gates at AT&T Park over the course of three-day event, held July 20-22. Nielsen surveyed a representative sample of attendees and found that 91% believed the event enriched the region, 70% said the experience exceeded expectations, and 94% would likely attend similar sporting events held in the region. USA Rugby Interim CEO Ross Young said, “The response we saw from the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 has really set a new standard in terms of the public interest and excitement about rugby, as well as the financial influence the growing sport of rugby can have in America.”

To determine the financial impact, Nielsen extrapolated spending by the event organizers, event visitors and associated event media value.

Organizer Spend: Collective spend by the event organizer and suppliers within the host economy, from accommodation to marketing to sponsor activation.

Visitor Spend: Collective spending by local, U.S. non-local and international spectators in the local area – in particular, transportation and accommodation. Sixty percent of event attendees were non-local and traveled to Northern California for the tournament. Of this number, 97% said they came to the region specifically for the Rugby World Cup Sevens.

Media Value: Visual and verbal mentions attributed to the host city during television broadcasts, which was tallied at more than 30 million viewers. With the entirety of the tournament broadcast across NBC and NBC Sports Network, a significantly increased value can be placed on Bay Area branded exposure, providing a high frequency of global eyes on San Francisco.

“Our syndicated global research shows strong growth in rugby fandom worldwide and the custom research conducted around Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 indicates the impact that this event had in the U.S. not just locally but nationwide,” said Jon Stainer, Managing Director, Nielsen Sports Americas.

In addition, event organizers focused on creating an impact beyond the stadium walls. Impact Beyond, the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 legacy program, was developed to benefit from the philanthropic efforts of the event. Northern California youth rugby organizations received approximately $200,000 in funds raised and engaged 85 Bay Area school and more than 22,000 kids with the sport of rugby.

"We’re incredibly proud that Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 made a resounding impact beyond the stadium walls,” said Rosie Spaulding, General Manager for the event. “We believed that Rugby World Cup Sevens could not only deliver significant economic impact to the San Francisco Bay Area, but also impact the future of the sport of rugby in the United States and leave a real legacy in our local communities.”

Based on the research from Nielsen Sports, USA Rugby and event organizers believe the United States now has the opportunity to establish itself as a market for ready future rugby events of this magnitude, not only with in the World Rugby space, but also domestically as the American sports market continues to embrace rugby as both participants and spectators.

About USA Rugby: Established in 1975, USA Rugby is the governing body for the sport of rugby in America and a Full Sport Member of the United States Olympic Committee. Currently headquartered in Lafayette, Colorado, USA Rugby is charged with developing the game on all levels and has more than 120,000 active members, with more than 40,000 playing collegiate rugby and 35,000 playing senior club rugby. USA Rugby oversees four national teams, multiple collegiate and high school All-American sides, and an emerging Olympic development pathway for elite athletes. It also hosts more than 30 national playoff and championship events each year as a service to its members. In October 2009, the International Olympic Committee announced Rugby Sevens (the seven-a-side version of the game) would appear in the 2016 Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro, in which both the men and women qualified. Visit for more information.

About the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018: In 2015, World Rugby granted hosting rights of the largest international sevens tournament to USA Rugby. USA Rugby and the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 Organizing Committee led the planning and delivery of this international tournament in San Francisco, working closely with World Rugby, local partners and officials. Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 was hosted at the iconic AT&T Park July 20-22, featuring the best 24 men’s and 16 women’s teams from around the world. Over 100,000 were in attendance spanning the three-day event, breaking an American record for rugby.

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