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A vibrant new logo for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018, depicting the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge, was unveiled in host city San Francisco on Wednesday with fans encouraged to sign up to register their interest in tickets via the newly launched tournament website.
The iconic AT&T Park in San Francisco will provide the spectacular backdrop to the four-day tournament in July 2018 that features 24 men's and 16 women's teams competing for the title of world champions. The 42,000-seater stadium, which is home to the San Francisco Giants baseball team, is one of the most familiar and highly rated sports venues in the USA and is located in downtown San Francisco, along the waterfront overlooking the bay.
This will be the seventh staging of the tournament, which has previously been held in Edinburgh, Hong Kong (twice), Mar del Plata, Dubai and Moscow. Having won both the men's and women's events at the famous Russian venue of Luzhniki Stadium, New Zealand will be back to defend their titles but will likely face considerable resistance in the form of Olympic gold medallists, Australia (women's) and Fiji (men's), not to mention strong home competition from both USA sides.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: "The success of rugby sevens at the recent Olympic Games in Rio gave the game a huge shot in the arm and we are working hard to ensure its popularity continues to rise in the coming years. Part of that is building on the success of previous RWC Sevens tournaments, which come at the mid-point in the Olympic cycle.
"Being a vibrant and exciting city, San Francisco is the perfect place to stage this tournament, which in the past has provided plenty of thrilling rugby action. And we are delighted that AT&T Park will be the venue, providing spectators with great facilities and affording the teams the sort of stage befitting of their athleticism and skills.”
World Rugby has also announced the qualification process for the tournament, which will see the top eight men's teams (plus hosts USA) and the top four women's teams from RWC Sevens 2013 qualify automatically. The remaining qualification places will be filled through the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series (men's and women's) as well as through the six regional tournaments.
The logo combines the familiar World Rugby framework with the extra adornment of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge in a dynamic and modern design.
USA Rugby CEO Dan Payne said: "We are proud to be hosting Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 at AT&T Park. We look forward to bringing rugby sevens to San Francisco and showcasing the game in a stadium known for iconic sporting moments.
"The commercial success of rugby sevens at the Olympics was massive, with an all-new fan base ranging from youth to college students to adults watching and truly enjoying the speed, determination and athleticism of our athletes from around the world. Rugby is already the fastest-growing team sport in America but with this new audience and now such a massive tournament coming to the US we can't wait to see where the sport goes next."
San Francisco Giants President and CEO Larry Baer said: "We are thrilled to be hosting this prestigious World Rugby tournament in 2018. Since our ballpark opened in 2000, we have hosted many world-class events and to now have the opportunity to welcome the top rugby sevens players and their fans from all over the world to AT&T Park is a great honour for us."
Tickets for RWC Sevens 2018 will go on sale next year.