NBC Sports and Universal Sports are looking to roll sevens with their rugby coverage from Las Vegas this weekend.
Marking the first time, the international event will be televised live in the U.S., the networks will combine on 15 hours of coverage of the USA Sevens Rugby from Sam Boyd Stadium on Feb. 12 and 13.
Rugby Sevens features seven players per side on the same size pitch as a traditional 15's match. The high-scoring format provides for non-stop play, as each match is split into two seven-minute halves, followed by a new game about every 20 minutes. Rugby Sevens kicks off as an Olympic sport in 2016.
The tournament showcases a 16-team field divided into four groups: A: England, Argentina, France and Guyana; B: New Zealand, Wales, Kenya and Uruguay; C: Fiji, Australia; Scotland and Canada: D: U.S, Somoa, South Africa and Japan. There is also a women's competition.
NBC Sports will have two broadcasts over the weekend with four hours of live coverage, including the Cup final on Feb. 13 at 4:30 p.m. (ET). Terry Gannon (play-by-play), Dave Sitton, who has played, coached and broadcast rugby for more than 30 years (analyst) and Marty Snider (reporter) will call the action. Rob Hyland, who serves as NBC Sports' lead producer for collegiate sevens rugby and Notre Dame football, will produce the world feed broadcast reaching out to over 140 different countries, while NBC Sports veteran producer David Gibson producing the NBC Sports and Universal Sports broadcasts.
For its part, Universal Sports kicks off its 11 hours of coverage on Feb 12 at 2 p.m., highlighted by the Cup semifinals from 2 p.m.-4:30 p.m. on Sunday, and the Shield, Bowl and Plate finals from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. that night. Universal Sports, a partnership of NBC and Leo Hindery's InterMedia Partners, LP that reaches some 63 million Stateside homes, will present a studio hosted by Fred Roggin and Bill Seward.
Universalsports.com will stream the entire event live on a subscription basis along with replays, highlights and analysis. All of the content will be available on demand by visiting universalsports.com/rugby.
ADT, Bridgestone, Subway and Toyota highlight are the national broadcast sponsors, which will benefit from in-stadium exposure via signage with permanent logos on and surrounding the field, Jumbotron spots, messaging and virtual signage. The companies will also run spots on the NBC and Universal Sports telecasts.
The networks also will pair as the exclusive U.S. television home of 2011 Rugby Sevens Collegiate Championship this June in Philadelphia, as well as the 2011 Rugby World Cup this fall in New Zealand.
The following is the USA Sevens International Rugby Championship boadcast schedule (All times live and ET)
Saturday, Feb. 12
3:30 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Featured matches: England vs. France, USA vs. Samoa and New Zealand vs. Kenya
2 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
6 p.m.- 8 p.m.
9:30 p.m. - 1 a.m.
Featured matches: South Africa vs. USA, Australia vs. Scotland and Cup quarterfinals
Sunday, Feb. 13
4:30 p.m.- 6 p.m.
Featured match: Cup final, teams TBD
2 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
6 p.m.- 8 p.m.
Featured match: Cup semifinal; Shield, Bowl and Plate finals
The smarter way to stay on top of the multichannel video marketplace. Sign up below.