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Sunset+Vine lands World Rugby Sevens Series production contract

Fiji players celebrate with the trophy after winning the World Rugby Sevens Series title (by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images for HSBC)

UK sports production and media company Sunset+Vine has secured a four-year contract to become the host broadcast partner of the World Rugby Sevens Series.

Rugby union’s global governing body World Rugby selected Sunset+Vine in what has been described as a “competitive” tender process. The contract runs through to 2023, and Sunset+Vine will deliver all host production services, non-live content and highlights packaging for the 12 tournaments per year.

Sunset+Vine has a strong heritage in rugby having produced the English Premiership and European competitions for UK pay-television broadcaster BT Sport since 2013 and the cross-border Pro14 league for fellow pay-television broadcaster Premier Sports since 2018.

Tom Hill, chief commercial officer of World Rugby, said: “We’re confident that a partnership with Sunset+Vine will be an even more attractive proposition for our broadcast partners. Not only will they help us achieve our vision for the series by leading in the coverage of our events, they will help deliver our commercial partner content in a new and engaging manner. This an exciting development for our sport and for sevens rugby in general.”

Jeff Foulser, chairman of Sunset+Vine, added: “We will use our rugby expertise to take the live coverage to a new level by standardising the production approach across the whole series and by bringing an ‘entertainment’ philosophy to the ‘short-form’ format of the sport.

“We want to offer broadcasters scheduling flexibility without compromising story-telling, so that viewers can quickly get up to speed with the status of the competition whenever a broadcaster joins the transmission. We can’t wait to play our part to broaden the impact of sevens rugby.”

Sunset+Vine’s team will be led by executive producer Helena Sykes, with Mark Dennis as director of technical operations and Adeline Lee as production executive.

The 2019 Rugby World Cup, which kicks off tomorrow, will be the first where broadcast production has been completely produced and controlled by World Rugby. International Games Broadcast Services, a joint venture between IMG and Infront-owned HBS, has been established to provide a world feed to rights-holding broadcasters.

Previously, the host broadcast duties fell to the rights-holding broadcaster in the host country.

US broadcaster NBC, which recently secured the World Rugby Sevens Series rights from 2020 to 2023, was the host broadcaster of the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament, which was held in San Francisco.