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LAFC to host rugby sevens at Banc of California Stadium

Soccer venue to become permanent host of “$1M Champion Sevens”

Rugby - Olympics: Day 6 Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Los Angeles Football Club announced on Tuesday that their stadium, Banc of California Stadium, will become the host of rugby sevens in a seven-year deal signed with the Grand Prix Network.

Rugby sevens is the variation of rugby introduced at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where it became a hit for its short, frenzied games. The deal announced on Tuesday will bring the sport to Banc of California Stadium, where they will host the “$1M Champion Sevens,” billed as the richest rugby championship in history in the release. It is as yet unclear if the rugby to be hosted will be club or international competition.

“LAFC is thrilled to welcome the Rugby Sevens to Banc of California Stadium. This championship level event is a perfect match for our world-class venue,” said Tom Penn, LAFC Club President and Owner, in a statement on the news. “We look forward to partnering with Grand Prix Network and USA Rugby Sevens to welcome rugby fans from Southern California and around the world to Banc of California Stadium.”

There is some precedent for rugby being played at an MLS venue, with the Philadelphia Union hosting it at their stadium for years, until sporting director Earnie Stewart was appointed ahead of the 2016 season.

After Stewart complained about non-soccer activities, including rugby, tearing up the turf at Talen Energy Stadium in 2016, the Union appear to have cut back on those non-soccer activities to accede to their sporting director’s interest in preserving the field for soccer.

Will LAFC encounter similar problems with rugby? It seems unlikely that rugby would leave the field in the same exact condition as they find it, but issues can be mitigated or exacerbated by the volume of activities on the pitch, the weather, and how often the turf is wholly replaced. Rugby coming to town could be a concern for the MLS team, but it isn’t a guarantee it will become a problem for the condition of the field.

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