World Tens Series to return ‘bigger and better’
Jon Phelps hailed the success of the inaugural World Tens Series and promised it will return bigger and better next year.
The maiden series concluded on Saturday with South African franchise SX10 being crowned World Tens Series Cup champions after overcoming Ohio Aviators at the National Sports Centre.
It brought to an end two weeks of an exciting action on island, which included seven privately owned teams from around the globe, featuring world-class players in a new format combining the tactics of rugby 15s with the skills of seven. Games were broadcast across major networks, including ESPN and Sky Sports.
The series was developed with the objective of becoming the “Indian Premier League” of rugby and, despite seeing one franchise drop out and another forced to miss the first three days of action after a positive Covid-19 test, Phelps believes they have laid the foundations to build on the overwhelming initial success of the tournament.
“I think it has been an incredible success, said Phelps, World Tens Series chief executive. ”We’ve overcome more challenges than I think I’ve seen in more than 30 years of rugby events.
“The numbers that we’ve hit in terms of reach over the last month have been incredible. It’s been in the region of 86 million on social media and broadcast reach of 1.3 billion. It has been all we could hope for with those sort of numbers when launching a new tournament.
“We have been broadcast in 101 countries through ESPN and Sky Sports. The feedback we’ve had is highly positive, and that speaks volumes for itself. Talking to people all around the world, they’re engaged with the new format and have enjoyed the coverage.
“We always knew this was effectively a 25-day launch, and it has been hugely successful and laid a strong foundation for future tournaments. Putting this tournament on during a pandemic and the setbacks we’ve faced is testament to everyone.
“We couldn’t have done any of this without coming to Bermuda — and that’s credit to the island. We just want to keep thanking everyone in Bermuda for having the protocols in place to allow us to hold such a tournament and helping us to be able to do what we have.”
While the finer details of next year’s event are yet to be confirmed, Phelps revealed the original format will be extended from eight to 12 franchises with a return date set between August and October.
“We will be growing to have 12 teams going forward and so there will only be four new licences up for grabs,” he added. “We want to evolve the tournament because that has always been the mantra.
“We have already had a number of interested parties looking at adding a new franchise or looking to buy one of the existing ones, so that is very exciting for us all.
“Next year we are absolutely planning to have 12 tournaments and we are just looking at the structure of how that will work with the experience from this year’s event.
“Hopefully, we’ll have an announcement in the coming month or so, but between August and October the World Tens Series will return bigger and better.”