Melbourne aiming for more rugby action - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Melbourne aiming for more rugby action

By Jeff Turnbull 22/03/2006 04:51:41 PM Comments (0)

The success of the rugby sevens tournament at the Commonwealth Games, which pulled a total of 150,000 fans over the two days of competition, has spurred calls for Melbourne to join the world sevens circuit.

A source close to the board of the Victorian Rugby Union said the expertise acquired during its unsuccessful campaign for a Super 14 team and the number of corporations ready to sponsor the code have put it in good shape for another tilt at staging top flight rugby.

The current world rugby sevens competition, run by the International Rugby Board (IRB), runs from late November to March and includes cities such as Dubai, Hong Kong, Wellington, Paris and London.

"The fact that there is not one in Australia tells me Melbourne has an opportunity," the source said.

"The question in the past was that the board didn't have the commercial capacity to put these things together but now we have that expertise."

The VRU underwent a major change in February with a new president, in sports and marketing executive Gary Gray, and new directors, including the chief financial officer of zinc miner Zinifex Ltd Tony Barnes.

In January, Melbourne staged a trial Super 14 match between the Crusaders and Western Australia's Force which drew 12,000.

"We need to gather excitement for the game and demonstrate to the Australian Rugby Union that we are commercially capable to run a rugby sevens tournament," the source said.

The staging of a sevens tournament would have to be before the AFL gets underway and the week between the completion of the NAB pre-season and the start of the AFL competition is favoured.

"The lesson learned from the Super 14 bid was that we weren't good enough, we weren't commercial enough," the source said.

"For the ARU to sit up and take notice we had to do things like the Crusader/Force event.

"We have to work with the state government to build a proposal to put to the IRB and then get endorsement from the ARU - that's the way to do it."

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