September 10 - Almost a year after rugby sevens was voted into the sporting programme of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, the International Rugby Board (IRB) has announced record viewing figures.

The broadcast report on the 2009/10 IRB Sevens World Series, published by the IRB's television distribution partner Pro-Active Television, showed that for a fifth consecutive year a record global audience tuned into the Series.

Television broadcast coverage of the eight-tournament 2009-2010 World Series reached 141 countries across six continents, with 34 broadcasters showing action from the most competitive Series to date, won by Samoa for the first time in the Series' 11-year history.

The grand prix-style Series accumulated 3,561 hours of total airtime - seven per cent up on the 2008-2009 season which smashed all previous figures - of which 1143 hours went out live.

Programming from the Series was carried in 16 languages and reached 325 million homes, with an estimated potential reach in excess of 750 million.

The World Series was also the main traffic driver on the IRB's Youtube channel, the bespoke features and try compilations from the sevens attracting over one million views on-line.

"Rugby sevens continues to prove itself a huge hit with fans, broadcasters and sponsors around the world, attracting new members to the global rugby family and with the ultimate seal of approval given by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) last year, the sky is the limit for this exciting sport," said IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset (pictured).

"The non-stop, highly competitive action and festival atmosphere continues to be the sport's winning formula, combined with the fact that so many nations can compete side by side and stand a genuine chance of winning.

"It is also a massive boost for the whole of world rugby that more people than ever before watched this season as Samoa showed what is possible in Sevens by winning their first World Series."

The 2009/10 IRB Sevens World Series comprised eight tournaments in Dubai, George in South Africa, Wellington, Las Vegas, Adelaide, Hong Kong, London and Edinburgh.

The IRB has already announced the dates for the eight events in the 2010-2011 World Series, which will take in five continents over a six month period.

The renowned event in Dubai will kick off the 12th season of the World Series on December 3-4 and once again the season will reach a climax in Edinburgh on May 28-29 2011.