BARBADOS RUGBY BIDDING TO HOST MAJOR INTERNATIONAL TOURNAMENT
Fresh from participating at two of the most prestigious international Rugby Sevens tournaments in 2014 (the Hong Kong Sevens and the Commonwealth Games), the Barbados Rugby Football Union has set its sights on hosting the 2015 World Rugby Women’s Sevens World Series Qualifier tournament on August 29th-30th, 2015 at the historic Kensington Oval.
The annual tournament serves to determine which four national Women’s teams will join the “core teams” on the 2015-2016 Women’s Sevens World Series circuit which has stops in Dubai, Brazil, USA, Canada, England and The Netherlands. The 11 core teams participate in each of the 6 Series events, with one regional invitee making up the 12-team roster. Teams earn points based on their performances at each event, with the team that accumulates the most points being declared the Series winner. The top 7 core teams retain their core status, while the bottom 4 join 8 challengers in the Qualifier tournament to determine which teams will make up the 11 core teams for the following season.
“We had been working closely with the former Barbados Tourism Authority on the staging of an international Rugby Sevens tournament since 2012, but the pieces just did not fall into place” said Nicholson. “When we approached World Rugby last year for advice about which national Men’s teams they believed would be receptive to an invitation to play in a tournament in Barbados, they invited us to consider submitting a bid for the 2015 WSWS Qualifier.”
Since December last year, the BRFU has been meeting with the BTMI, the BHTA and the TDC to present the concept of staging the WSWS Qualifier in conjunction with an 8-team international Men’s tournament, and a Beach Fives tournament that would be open to all comers.
“Beach Rugby is huge in Europe, and especially in the UK of all places,” says Nicholson. “It would be a natural fit for Barbados and a wonderful advertisement of our island’s natural beauty. As an example of the potential of this event, the Bournemouth 7s Festival that is held in May in the UK has grown from a simple Rugby Sevens tournament to become the largest Sports and Music festival in the UK, featuring Rugby Sevens, Hockey, Dodgeball, Netball, live music performances and massive beer tents. There is no reason why we couldn’t do something similar in Barbados.”
With the Youth Sports Travel estimated by CNBC in a January 2014 report as being a 7 billion dollar (and growing) industry, it is a market segment that Barbados cannot afford to ignore, according to Nicholson.
“We need to adopt a “Field of Dreams” mentality” says Nicholson, “if we build it, they will come. Overseas colleges, clubs and National teams are all potential targets for us, but only if we have the right infrastructure and support services to make it worth their while. Our local sportsmen and women, as well as clubs and sports service personnel would all benefit from increased sports tourism, to say nothing of the benefits for our hospitality industry.”
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