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By IRB Media Unit
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset has hailed the global success of another record-breaking HSBC Sevens World Series.
Once again the Series as a whole set a new attendance record with just over 547,500 fans supporting the nine events played across five continents, outstripping the previous best of 500,100.
As well as expanding to nine events with the addition of Japan, there were four new venues in total on the 2011/12 Series, all of which proved an instant hit with supporters.
Australia's move to the Gold Coast was well supported at the start of the season; Port Elizabeth's Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium provided a cauldron of atmosphere in South Africa; Scotland's switch from Edinburgh to Glasgow attracted new fans to the game and a return to Tokyo was significant for Asian Rugby as Japan prepares to host Rugby World Cup 2019.
At three of the nine venues spectators were also treated to top women's action, with the IRB Women's Sevens Challenge Cup underscoring the global and competitive nature of the Women's Game, acting as a pre-cursor to a new IRB Women's Sevens Series, to be announced in due course.
"This has been a magnificent season of achievement for Rugby Sevens both on and off the field," said IRB Chairman, Bernard Lapasset.
"The action has been more competitive than ever before in the HSBC Sevens World Series, with five different Cup winners and no fewer than thirteen teams reaching the Cup quarter finals, including the likes of Spain, Canada, Tonga and Kenya, while our Women's and Regional events are going from strength to strength."
"In the stands and around the venues the carnival atmosphere of a Sevens tournament continues to provide a unique appeal to Rugby fans all around the world. Together these factors combine to make the sport an incredibly enticing prospect as we move ever closer to Sevens' Olympic Games debut in 2016."
New Zealand won a 10th World Series crown at Twickenham. On arriving home in Auckland their coach Gordon Tietjens, freshly inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame, was quick to stress his players' achievements given the wider backdrop of Sevens' unprecedented competiveness and an expanded Series.
"It just keeps growing, the crowds keep getting bigger, the competition's getting tougher, seven or eight teams now could win a tournament. There is no doubt that we are seeing the enormous benefits of Olympic inclusion and I am sure that the Olympics will see the benefits of Rugby Sevens' inclusion."
Andrea de Vincentiis, Head of Rugby Sponsorship for World Series title sponsor HSBC, also paid tribute to the players and fans.
"When HSBC decided to invest in the World Series it was because the bank saw the potential of the already popular and successful international competition. Since then it has continued to thrive and all nine venues this year hosted successful tournaments which attracted fans from all countries," he said.
"The continued growth in attendance and broadcast coverage illustrates just how popular the Series has become, with Sevens set to have a bright future over the coming four years in the build-up to the Olympic Games in 2016."
Players from the Qantas Australian Women's Sevens program visited the Sydney Children's Hospital in Randwick on Thursday to bring some needed festive cheer to sick children.