"Sevens is an ideal forum to show rugby in the Olympic Games" - John Eales, Australia

"I see no reason why it would not be unbelievably supported in an Olympic context" - Keith Wood, Ireland

"It allows some of the other countries an opportunity to express themselves and certainly from a spectator point of view it would be wonderful" - Lawrence Dallaglio, England

"For me playing in the Olympic Games would be the highest achievement as a rugby player" - Agustin Pichot, Argentina

Looking back

Rugby was played as a medal sport in the Olympic Games of 1900, 1908, 1920 and 1924. The finalists at the Paris Olympics of 1924 were the USA and France, with the United States winning the gold medal.

The International Rugby Board became an IOC (International Olympic Committee) Recognised International Federation in 1995, marked by a ceremonial signing by President Samaranch prior to a match between Wales and South Africa in Cardiff.

Since then, the IRB has sought to be a diligent and active member of the IWGA and a supporter of all the GAISF (General Association of International Sporting Federations) and IOC initiatives.

Looking ahead

Rugby satisfies in every respect the criteria set out in the Olympic Charter for inclusion in the programme of the Olympic Games. Specifically:

  • The sport is played by men in over 100 countries in 5 continents. It is played by women in some 52 countries in 5 continents.
  • The IRB and its Member Unions apply the World Anti-Doping Code and perform in and out-of-competition testing.
  • The IRB is experienced in organising qualifying events for its World Cup and has the competence to do so for the Olympic Games. As a team sport, rugby would be able to conform to the requirement for the number of teams not to exceed 12 teams for each gender. (See footnote later.)
  • The rugby programme could be accommodated within one stadium. However, it would be preferable and helpful to have a number of other grassed areas or fields for team preparation and training. 
  • In addition, the rugby programme can comfortably share a stadium with other events. Converting a pitch from rugby to soccer, can be accomplished in less than two hours.
  • No special equipment is required for rugby. It is a relatively inexpensive game to play.

The Sevens story

The Sevens game originated in the Borders of Scotland where Ned Haig, a butcher from Melrose, had the idea of playing an abbreviated form of the game in order to raise much needed funds for his club.

The first Melrose Sevens was held at the famous Greenyards ground in 1883 after which the game quickly spread throughout the Borders and far beyond. Today, tournaments are held in almost every one of the 96 countries in membership of the IRB.

The biggest Sevens event in the world is the Rosslyn Park Schools Tournament which annually attracts over 3,000 schoolchildren from all over the world.

The first officially sanctioned International Tournament was held at Murrayfield in 1973 as part of the Scottish Rugby Union's centenary celebrations and three years later the Hong Kong Sevens was spectacularly launched.

The establishment of the Rugby World Cup Sevens was the inevitable consequence of the game's global expansion, and the World Sevens Series, launched by the IRB in 1999, has introduced the game into many new territories. Since its inception the Series has been played in 16 countries across 5 continents and no fewer than 46 countries have participated.

For the latest Sevens news click HERE for IRBSevens.com

Standards have improved dramatically and a Satellite Series has been launched in Europe with plans for similar competitions well advanced in Asia and Africa.

Only the fastest, the fittest and, above all, the most skilful can survive in a game in which there is no hiding place and in which any deficiencies are quickly exposed. The Sevens format is exhilirating and challenging to play and spectacular to watch.

It provides magnificent entertainment which accounts for its enormous spectator appeal. At the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, the five sessions of Sevens attracted 130,000 spectators, second only to the numbers watching the athletics.

Rugby's promise to deliver the world's best teams and top players to the Olympics has been confirmed by leading exponents of the present day game - Lawrence Dallaglio, Josh Lewsey (England), George Gregan (Australia), Jonah Lomu, Joe Rokocoko (New Zealand), Olivier Magne (France), Agustin Pichot (Argentina), Waisale Serevi (Fiji), (Bobby Skinstad, Brent Russell (South Africa) and Keith Wood (Ireland) - who are unanimously of the view that Olympic participation would represent the peak of rugby achievement for the world's top players.