NEW YORK – (Staff report from Official News Release) – North American sports fans can make way for Rugby!
United World Sports, the event organizer for the two largest annual rugby events in the United States – HSBC World Sevens in Las Vegas and the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship – has announced the launch of The North American Super 7’s Rugby League.
Super 7s is a modified, professional, city-based league for the fast-growing sport of Rugby Sevens. As part of their announcement, the new league, which will feature competition for professional-level men and women, also named longtime sports and media executive and former professional rugby player David Niu as President of the North American Super 7s Rugby League.
Niu was named to the new post after serving as President, AFL Global, China Arena Football League, where he was responsible for the building and development of professional American Arena Football in China as part of an agreement with the Chinese Sports Ministry. After years of planning and foundation-building work, the league successfully launched in 2016 and will be returning for a second season in the fall of 2017 in China.
“We are very pleased to be able to finally announce our plan of launching what is a very fast paced, exciting league for Rugby Sevens here in North America, and we are even more excited to have David Niu at the helm,” said United World Sports and Super 7s CEO and Founder Jon Prusmack.
“As someone who has seen how a fast-paced and exciting sport can grow in a new marketplace, China, I am very enthused about the launch of Super 7s in North America. It certainly fits the American psyche for fast, exciting, yet short content.” Niu said. “The work that has been done by UWS to expand the footprint of rugby here in this country has been phenomenal, and we are ready to take a sport that will appeal to a wide audience with a very short learning curve to new levels of engagement.”
Super 7’s Rugby will launch with a barnstorming six city ‘Pro Tour’ in the United States in July, 2018, immediately following the 2018 Rugby Sevens World Cup, scheduled to take place in San Francisco. There is also a significant chance Boston will be in the mix next summer.
As far as players go, New England also has produced athletes like US National team players Madison Hughes (Dartmouth) and Patriots special teams standout Nate Ebner as prime examples of a crossover that can benefit the Rugby league at the outset.
For the North American Super 7s league, six professional men, and six professional women’s teams and their coaching staffs will be created through an extensive evaluation process over the next 12 months and determined by an inaugural Super 7s League Draft. The six teams, made up largely of players from college and club programs currently playing in the United States and Canada, in the 2018 Pro Tour will all travel, prepare and perform in a touring roadshow that showcases the sport of Super 7’s to build the profile of the game, engage strategic partners, and identify key markets as the league evolves into a full city by city league in the spring and summer of 2019.
Originally tested as a new media and entertainment property in the spring of 2015 in Philadelphia, Super 7’s will be an extended and slightly modified version of Rugby Sevens, that will transform the game from a ‘tournament style’ format where an entire game is only 14 minutes long, to deliver a ‘national league competition’ model featuring games that are 4 x 15 quarters in duration that will be presented in a traditional city based league schedule that American sports fans are most familiar with. There will be other features to the game to make it very exciting, including “The Gauntlet” – A Tie-Breaking 2 on 1 Skills Competition to determine the winner. There will be no ties in Super 7s.
Team rosters will be comprised of 16 to 21 players, with free substitution to maintain the turbocharged excitement that is the hallmark of this Olympic team sport. The result is an exciting, fast paced, high scoring sports package made for audience enjoyment, commercial, broadcast visibility and financial success in rugby markets across the country.
Niu brings over 30 years of professional media, marketing, sales and event experience to the new venture. In addition to helping conceptualize, monetize and launch all aspects of AFL Global from inception in 2012 through this past month, he founded the American National Rugby League which featured and presented regional, national and international teams, competitions, and events across the USA from Honolulu to New York from 1998 to 2010.
As President of AFL Global and the CAFL (China American Football League) for the past five years, Niu built a professional league from scratch in a country where the culture and the business of American arena football was nonexistent. He supervised and coordinated all aspects of the league operations from two offices, with staff in Philadelphia (AFLG) and Beijing (CAFL)
Prior to AFL Global, the Australia native negotiated the TV rights agreement of the National Rugby League from Australia Final Series on Spike TV in the USA between the NRL Australia and MTV Networks, the TV rights agreement of the National Rugby League and State of Origin Series from Australia on Fox Soccer Channel in the USA between the American National Rugby League, the National Rugby League and Fox Sports International, and coordinated the live international broadcast of the USA v Australia Rugby League International on Fox Sports World (USA), Foxtel (Australia) and Sky (UK). The Philadelphia resident also has extensive grassroots experience in rugby in the U.S. and served as Director of Rugby for the Glen Mills Schools from 1994 – 2007, and is currently actively involved with the Archmere Academy High School, St. Joseph’s University, and Penn State University rugby programs. From 1984 through 2004, Niu played professional and international Rugby Union, Rugby League, and Rugby Sevens.
The backbone of this venture is United World Sports, the largest commercial rugby entity in the United States, and the owner and operator of a growing portfolio of dynamic sports, media and apparel brands, including the USA Sevens Rugby international tournament, the largest professional rugby event in North America; the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship, the premier college 7s rugby championship; and the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Championship, the 15s national rugby championship. Through its apparel division, UWS owns the exclusive North and South American license for Rhino Rugby, one of the world’s leading rugby apparel and equipment brands. UWS also owns and operates RugbyToday.com, the largest and most widely read media destination dedicated to American rugby. For more information about UWS and its properties, visit: www.unitedworldsports.com