The Canada Sevens will be coming back to Vancouver for at least four more years.
The long-rumoured confirmation was announced at a news conference at ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square, outside the Vancouver Art Gallery, on Wednesday morning.
The Vancouver tournament has been well-reviewed by players, teams and World Rugby officials since the first edition in 2016 and has also drawn big crowds every year to B.C. Place Stadium.
From that first event, fans have taken to the idea of wearing costumes to the first day, creating a bit of a Halloween in March. The crowd’s energy is infectious and the players on the field have spoken since Day 1 of how they all benefit from the noise, no matter what country they’re from.
Count former Fiji coach Ben Ryan a fan.
“I love the Van sevens,” he said from London, a day before he was to fly over for the weekend. “So do players. It’s an awesome city, brilliantly run, so enthusiastically by the Rugby Canada staff and volunteers and the stadium is breath-taking. We are lucky to have the (Canada) Sevens, not the other way around.”
Former Canadian captain John Moonlight played in the first three editions and scored a dramatic try at the 2016 event against France, powering Canada to a thrilling win in the consolation final.
“That was kind of the peak of an unreal weekend,” he recalled Wednesday after the renewal news was announced.
“It finished with us being able to win that game in front of the home crowd. It still gives me chills.”
Current captain Nathan Hirayama converted Moonlight’s try to seal the victory.
“(The renewal) is a great thing for not only our program, but the fans the sport in Canada going forward. It’s one of the best tournament in the world and hopefully it’ll continue to grow,” he said.
According to the event’s organizers, over its first three editions the tournament has averaged $24 million in economic activity in British Columbia. Most ticket sales are local, but more than 5,000 fans came from outside B.C., both from other parts of Canada and from overseas.
Alongside the tournament itself, teams make community visits: The Fijians were again welcomed by families of the Musqueam Nation on Tuesday while the Spanish team met students from Britannia elementary school on Wednesday.
Teams train at the University of B.C., Trillium Park and St. George’s School in Vancouver, Capilano rugby club and Collingwood and Mulgrave schools in West Vancouver, and the Windsor Bubble in North Vancouver.
The Canada Sevens is one of 10 tournaments held at cities around the world as part of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.