The South African Rugby Union (SARU) announced on Friday that the SA leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series would be moving to Cape Town for four years from December.
The Cape Town Sevens will join a host of new and iconic venues on the Series circuit – which has already added Sydney and Vancouver to its schedule – with the full line-up of host cities and dates to be confirmed by World Rugby in due course.
The Cape Town Sevens will be played at the Cape Town Stadium following an agreement between SARU and the City Council. The Western Province Rugby Union was kept informed of the discussions by SARU and has pledged their support.
"World Rugby wanted global iconic destinations to showcase the new Olympic sport of Rugby Sevens and a world-class stadium, in a world-class city in the shadow of a World Heritage site in Table Mountain provides exactly that," said Jurie Roux, CEO of SARU.
"We enjoyed our stay in George and more recently in Port Elizabeth where we were able to grow the event with the help of the Municipality and the support of the Eastern Province Rugby Union and Eastern Cape fans and we thank them for that. But as the World Sevens Series has grown – and with it the requirements and the expectations – so we needed to go to the next level and Cape Town allows us to do that.
"Cape Town is sports-mad and their crowds frequently top the attendance charts in SA and it is a rugby city. The Fan Walk to the stadium and the proximity of entertainment areas such as the V&A Waterfront are an added bonus and will capture and amplify the unique vibe of Sevens Rugby. It also has the added advantage from World Rugby’s perspective of numerous direct international flights and significant hotel capacity, which will ease some of the logistical issues."
World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "With excitement increasing ahead of Rio 2016, the World Rugby Sevens Series is going from strength to strength, proving a hit with fans, broadcasters and sponsors around the globe with its winning blend of compelling and competitive action, global destinations and festival atmosphere.
"The South Africa Sevens has been at the heart of the success story and we are delighted to be extending our partnership with SARU as a Series host. We have enjoyed 13 successful years at Port Elizabeth (four) and George (nine) and the move to Cape Town reflects the ever-increasing interest and success of Sevens in South Africa.
"Cape Town is one of the world’s iconic cities – a major tourism and sporting destination that has proven to be an exceptional and warm host. Its inclusion within a stellar World Rugby Sevens Series schedule is exciting for fans around the world.
"I am confident that the South Africa Sevens in Cape Town will inspire new audiences and participants and contribute to the continued strong growth of rugby in South Africa and around the world.
"The confirmation of Cape Town as World Rugby’s preferred destination was completed following SARU’s entering into an arrangement with the City of Cape Town over the use of the Cape Town Stadium as the home of SA Sevens,” said Lapasset.
"We are very excited that, as from December, Cape Town will be hosting the South African leg of the World Sevens Series for the next four years. Sporting events play a major role in our vision of becoming the events capital of Africa,” said the Executive Mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille.
"We are therefore especially honoured to be the new hosts of this event, and I would like to thank the South African Rugby Union (SARU) and World Rugby for giving us this opportunity.”
The Executive Mayor added: "The Cape Town Stadium has become a beacon of inclusivity within our city, and it is only fitting that this iconic venue play host to an event that unites people from across the world through their love of sport. Now, people will be coming to the Cape Town Stadium to share in their love for rugby as well.”
The Blitzboks and 15 other international teams will contest the SA tournament, whose title has been won by South Africa in the past two seasons.
December’s tournament in Port Elizabeth attracted a crowd of 63 000 over the two days of competition with that figure expected to be topped at the 55 000-capacity Cape Town stadium.
South Africa lead the current standings on the World Series with 93 points from New Zealand (88) and Fiji (86). The next tournament kicks off a week today in Hong Kong.