Lapasset relishing Russia opportunity

(IRB.COM) Friday 21 June 2013  
 
 Lapasset relishing Russia opportunity
Lapasset: "Number of players in Russia has doubled since 2009"

Rugby World Cup Limited Chairman Bernard Lapasset believes that RWC Sevens 2013 in Moscow will be a catalyst for the further development of the Game across Russia.

With seven days to go until the finest men’s and women’s Sevens players on the planet take to the iconic Luzhniki Stadium,  Lapasset says that it is important that the hosting opportunity is converted into increased participation numbers.

He said: “Russia is an important strategic market for the IRB. It now has 30,000 registered players, a professional league and national men’s and women’s teams making their mark on the world stage. And the evidence is that the sport is continuing to grow rapidly in Russia. With 14,500 players being registered in 2009, the number of participants has doubled since the decision was made that year to return Rugby to the Olympics.”

“This growth must continue into the future. It is important that this hosting opportunity is converted into tangible benefits and we have been working in partnership with the Rugby Union of Russia and the Russian Government to achieve just that.”

“Rugby is a sport of strong character-building values and it resonates with the Russian people. Russia is one of the top Olympic nations and so with Rugby now back on the Olympic Games programme, awareness of the sport is definitely growing.”

RWC Sevens 2013 will bring together 24 men’s and 16 women’s teams for a three-day test of skill, power, stamina and pace as the countdown continues to Sevens’ Olympic Games debut in Rio de Janeiro 2016.

Russia women enter the event off the back of successful IRB Women’s Sevens World Series and European Sevens Series campaigns and are among the favourites to win a medal next weekend. The men’s team have also made significant strides and are aiming for silverware.

The local organising body is also helping to reach out to new fans in the Moscow region by laying on a massive music, sporting and cultural festival within the Olympic Park complex. French band Space are headlining the festival, 30 years to the day after a sell-out concert tour took Russia by storm, a tour that saw them play at Luzhniki not long after it had hosted the 1980 Olympic Games.

It will be an opportunity to showcase the latest Olympic sport to Russians but also, via an extensive broadcast, digital and social media platform, the sport is set to reach out to new audiences around the world.

Lapasset added: “Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 is a must-see event. There will be world-class entertainment on the field and a superb Rugby festival in the surrounding complex that will showcase Moscow, Russia and will involve 130 men’s, women’s and children’s teams from all over Russia and internationally.”