Rugby 7s World Cup Interview with Aaron "Reno" Jolcover
Our teammate Reno went to the rugby 7s world cup in San Francisco so we decided to ask him a few questions about the event.
1. What was the atmosphere like in San Francisco for the rugby 7’s world cup?
Just unreal. You have a huge stadium full of people that are from all around the world that are there screaming for their national team. Like when Fiji came out, you would have thought the entire left side of the stadium was just all Fijian’s. There’s also nothing quite like sitting with some Kenyans and making fun of people in front of you for being French and that their rugby team sucks. Don’t get me wrong Eagles and Flyers games are great, but I don’t think it gets much better than an international 7’s tournament.
2. What did they do to attract new fans to the game and not just cater to the pre-existing fans?
Honestly if they failed in one aspect, it would be this. Obviously I didn’t see the broadcast so they maybe helped explain the rules and concept of the game for TV? But for anyone there, you just showed up and watched rugby. For example on Friday we were with some people form South Africa and were explaining to them what rugby 7’s is and the rules of the game. They said they just showed up since it was a world cup and wanted to support the “Blitzboks.” They would show some videos of teams or specific players on the Jumbo-tron but nothing insightful or would have helped new spectators.
3. Have we shown as a nation that we are ready to host the 15s world cup as early as 2027?
I debated this question a bit in my head but I think we are ready. I know the GA tickets sold out a month before and the stadium was pretty packed both Saturday and Sunday. The biggest issue it seems is just about publicity and marketing. They had the rugby 7’s world cup right after the FIFA world cup so it didn’t seem to quite get the attention that it deserved on social media and in the news. The international test matches they have had in Chicago have been well marketed and sold a lot of tickets. But than you have that SA vs Wales match they did here that wasn’t talked about at all and they almost had to cancel it over how little it sold. But yes this event showed we can handle it if we are able to win a bid.
4. Who performed a better victory haka, the all blacks or the black ferns?
I might get called out for this at the next Kangaroo Court, but I didn’t end up seeing either one of them. Saturday after having a beer or 12, the last few matches are a bit of a blur. Sunday we left immediately at the final whistle as we wanted to try and beat the rush to Uber back. I’m sure they were both equally amazing.
5. Which players and teams stuck out in terms of performance entertainment?
I mean it’s hard to talk about rugby 7’s and not immediately think of Fiji. It’s just mind blowing how big and fast they are, yet when they play it looks like they are just messing around and not even trying. Perry Baker is even faster in person if that is somehow possible. Dan Norton for England stood out the most to me, it seemed like their only game plan was just give him the ball and let him work. The USA and New Zealand women’s team were really fun to watch just for how well they play as a team. Also it was brutal to see Kenya losing after they went up by 20 something points because they got those two yellow cards. Their fans were just devastated. I didn’t realize how big rugby is for that country and what that team means to them.
6. You went with a group and apparently had theme outfits for each day. Tell us how that was all worked out?
Splendidly. Friday was Hawaiian and Sunday was USA gear. But the big winner was #RandySavageSaturday. I was shocked out how many people loved our outfits. We had a ton of high fives and even some people who wanted pictures with us. People would walk by and just yell some of his famous sayings at us so it helped that my buddy Brian had practiced the voice and some of his catch phrases too so he would just spit stuff right back. There happened to be a few people dressed like Hulk Hogan and we were yelling at them, so I know Randy would have been proud. Also It must have been the hot pink zebra tights but I had my butt grabbed a few times. Highly recommend that everyone dress up for that theme at least once in their life. It should probably be a national holiday. RIP Macho Man
7. What was your favorite moment from the weekend overall?
Just seeing how great of a rugby community the US has. I played rugby in college and played men’s club on the west coast. So it was great just walking around and catching up with guys I used to play against, some guys on my national traveling social team I’m on, and even had some beers with people who recognized me that I had played back in college. I know rugby here is growing more and that we now have a pro league but it’s great to see how strong the community is for a bunch of people who have to pay to play and do it because they love the game.