The UK National Sevens series is set to attract a number of sevens stars and increase their earning potential.
The league will feature 10 British teams, but half of these squads can be made up of international players. It will run through June and July, after the conclusion of the IRB Sevens Series.
Tim Lacey, the head of Ultimate Rugby Sevens, which promotes the league, believes sevens’ inclusion in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics will increase the sport’s commercial value. Lacey has plans to set up similar leagues around the world, especially America.
‘I see leagues such as this forming in other regions,’ Lacey told the Sunday Star Times. ‘Outside the IRB series, there isn’t a huge amount of structure to the sevens game and at a club level there is little structure and little opportunity for the specialist sevens player to ply his trade on a regular basis.
‘I think we’ll see sevens take off in the US in the next four or five years. It’s perfect for their consumer; it’s short, high-scoring, simple. Come the 2016 Olympics I think we’ll see a US sevens side good enough to compete for an Olympic medal and then the mass market will really get behind it in the US.
‘I also think we’ll see more specialist sevens players as the two games increasingly diverge, with different skill sets for each.’
Lacey is hoping leagues such as this will increase the earning potential of sevens specialists in future, but couldn’t disclose what the players will earn at the inaugural tournament this year.
‘I can’t say much on the financials at the moment – a lot of that will evolve over the next two to three months as there’s still work to do with the broadcaster and sponsors,’ he said.
‘Big salaries will come, but how quickly it will happen remains to be seen. The sport has considerable potential commercially and I think we’ll see it develop in the next few years.’