According to CNN, rugby is the fastest-growing team sport in America. Glendale, Colo. has taken advantage of the sport’s rising popularity, and is now known as RugbyTown USA, partly due to their sprawling sports facility known as Infinity Park. The town needed help in taking the sport to the next level, and who better than rugby legend Waisele Serevi?

“Around the world, he’s more famous than Tom Brady or any quarterback you can name,” said Glendale mayor Mike Dunafon.

Serevi and Dunafon worked together to create the RugbyTown 7s tournament, which will be in its fifth year come this August. Rugby 7s is a variation of the classic fifteen-a-side rugby, and is played at a faster tempo. Serevi is considered by many to be one of the greatest rugby 7s players of all-time, helping his native Fiji win the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 1997 and 2005. With his playing days behind him, Serevi’s main goal now is to help the sport grow in America, and his partnership with Dunafon and the city of Glendale has done just that.

“It has been great. I was so excited to have a partnership with the city of Glendale, and to still be part of it today, I don’t regret anything,” stated Serevi. “It is the best way to give back to rugby. That’s the reason I’m here in the US, trying to grow the sport of rugby.”

Although the popularity of the sport has increased dramatically here in the US, Serevi still feels there are obstacles blocking the sport from reaching its full potential in our country.

“It is struggling at the moment to go into schools as a school sport,” said Serevi.

Despite this, he still has his sights set incredibly high for the tournament down the road. He also feels more countries will be willing to participate in the tournament in the near future.

“My goal for the Rugbytown 7s for the next couple of years is to be the biggest 7s tournament in the world,” stated Serevi. “Next year it’s going to be bigger, and I believe South Africa will send a team. I believe Australia and New Zealand might send a team this way.”

Although the tournament has been great for the growth of rugby in America, its impact on the city of Glendale has been huge as well. Mayor Dunafon feels it will only continue to help the city and its local businesses down the road. The tournament’s venue, Infinity Park, has been instrumental during this process.

“Ironically, it’s making Glendale more famous overseas than it is locally,” stated Dunafon, furthermore saying, “The pitch, which is what we call a field in rugby, has been the #1 pitch in the United States five times, which includes Lambeau Field and Dick’s [Sporting Goods Park]. It’s an amazing surface to run on.”

The tournament and the field itself has also brought more business to the area. Local hotels were struggling, but with this tournament and the venue itself, the hotels have seen their numbers improve drastically.

“They’re now booking out above 90 percent. The economic impact, the engine for the hotels and businesses, has been tremendous,” said Dunafon.

Dunafon knows the impact having the sport of rugby and a facility of that caliber had on his community, and has reached out to other cities in an attempt to promote the sport and the benefits that come along with it.

“It’s the first, it’s the best, and we’ve gone out to other cities saying, ‘we’ll give you the plans, how can we help you build these. What can we do to bring rugby to your town so you can see the transformation in your own citizens and the youth,’” said Dunafon.

The tournament will take place August 25-27, and will feature 21 teams, including teams from all five military branches, as well as the recently added Viti Barbarians, which will be comprised of 7-8 members of team Fiji, who won gold at the 2016 Olympics.