Philadelphia Sports Day

Philly Native To Head New Rugby League

As the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship takes over Talen Energy Stadium this coming weekend with over 30,000 people, a Philly-area resident has been named to head a new league for the Olympic Sport of Rugby Sevens, with a test coming next summer and a full launch in 2019.

It will be called The North American Super 7’s Rugby League, a faster, modified version of the CRC, and longtime sports and media executive and former professional rugby player David Niu was named President on Tuesday. Niu has spent the last few years helping another Philly icon, Ron Jaworski, successfully launch Arena Football in China, and now will have the task of creating a league in the US, a market which is in many ways foreign soil for rugby, one of the three largest team sports in the world.

“As someone who has seen how a fast-paced and exciting sport can grow in a new marketplace, China, I am very enthused about the launch of Super 7s in North America. It certainly fits the American psyche for fast, exciting, yet short content.” Niu said in a release. “The work that has been done by UWS to expand the footprint of rugby here in this country has been phenomenal, and we are ready to take a sport that will appeal to a wide audience with a very short learning curve to new levels of engagement.”

Super 7’s Rugby will begin with a six city tour next summer (Philly will probably be one of the stops given the success of the CRC) leading to a league for men and women the following spring and summer. Talen Energy Stadium, or even Franklin Field, could be prime venues for the event. The idea is to expand a game of sevens, which is only 14 minutes long, to four, 15 minute quarters with free substitution. The game would fit well in a 90 minute broadcast window, with the league starting as a single entity, much like how Major league Soccer was launched.

Niu served as Director of Rugby for the Glen Mills Schools from 1994 – 2007, and is currently actively involved with the Archmere Academy High School, St. Joseph’s University, and Penn State University rugby programs. He has over 30 years of professional experience, most recently as President of AFL Global and the CAFL (China American Football League) for the past five years. He built the professional league from scratch and got the league off to a successful start last fall, with season two coming this fall.

He also has extensive rugby business experience, having negotiated the TV rights agreement of the National Rugby League from Australia Final Series on Spike TV in the USA between the NRL Australia and MTV Networks, the TV rights agreement of the National Rugby League and State of Origin Series from Australia on Fox Soccer Channel in the USA between the American National Rugby League, the National Rugby League and Fox Sports International, and coordinated the live international broadcast of the USA v Australia Rugby League International on Fox Sports World (USA), Foxtel (Australia) and Sky (UK).

With this week’s college event featuring schools from across the country like Cal and UCLA, as well as local schools like St. Joe’s, Delaware, Penn State, Kutztown and Drexel, there should be a good amount of buzz in the air as the best players get a shot at performing before big crowds as a prelude to what could be the birth of a new professional entity, right here in Philadelphia.

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