'Great to be back': International rugby tournament in Langford, B.C., considered a success

After a two-year hiatus due to pandemic travel restrictions, the HSBC World Rugby Seven Series returned to Langford, B.C., this past week, and organizers say it was a great success.

The tournament was made up of 12 of the world's top international teams with Australia taking first place and Canada placing fifth.

Organizers say 5,200 fans lined the bleachers over the weekend to cheer teams on.

"It just great to be back at our home here in Langford," said Jamie Levchuk, interim CEO of Rugby Canada.

"We haven’t been able to put this tournament on since 2019 due to COVID so it was really nice to get back into our home stadium and have the event here," he said.

Levchuk says the economic spin-offs of the tournament were great for the community with four hotels completely booked up for 12 teams, support staff, World Rugby staff and broadcasters.

Food and transportation was also organized for everyone involved.

'EXTREMELY POSITIVE'

Fans were hungry for the action, with many staying on to watch the championship match – even though Canada had been eliminated.

"The atmosphere in that stadium was, you know, absolutely fantastic," Levchuk said Monday.

"That stadium stayed full right to the very end."

A recent independent review of Rugby Canada was critical of the organization and found Langford to be "not viewed as a positive place to live with it being framed as 'expensive' and 'isolated.'"

Rugby Canada's interim CEO says that wasn't the mood felt over the weekend.

"I don’t think there was anybody talking about any of those things," he said.

"Everything we got back from the teams was extremely positive," said Levchuk. "When we were talking to the teams it was about, 'What a beautiful part of the world, what a well run event.'"

Canada's women's team is now off to France for the next tournament in the series.