The President of the International Rugby Board (IRB), Bernard Lapasset, on Monday led the team presenting Rugby Sevens’ case for inclusion in the Olympic Games to the IOC’s Executive Board in Lausanne, Switzerland.
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Mr. Lapasset was joined by Mike Miller, Secretary General of the IRB, Agustín Pichot, former captain of the Argentina Sevens Rugby Team, Cheryl Soon, captain of the Australia Sevens team that won Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens earlier this year, Humphrey Kayange, captain of the Kenya Sevens team and Anastassiya Khamova, one of Kazakhstan’s top female players, a referee at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 and a leading figure in the Women’s Game.
“Our team was very excited about presenting to the IOC Executive Board today. Our rehearsals as a team in the last few weeks were very beneficial and I feel that we left a positive impression of a united and committed team with the members. We shared our Olympic vision and highlighted Rugby Sevens’ case for Olympic Games inclusion, which we firmly believe would be good for the Olympic Games and good for Rugby,” said Mr Lapasset.
“We are committed to the continued global growth and development of the sport and its values and it is this aim that underpins our current campaign to secure the introduction of Rugby Sevens in the Olympic Games, beginning in 2016,” added Lapasset.
Humphrey Kayange, captain of the Kenya Sevens team, believes that Olympic Games inclusion has the potential to offer medal opportunities to more nations around the world as well as bring a new fan base of enthusiastic young people to the Games.
“Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai showed that the so-called smaller sporting nations can compete with the biggest in the world. Countries like Zimbabwe, Samoa, Tonga, and Uruguay proved they are capable of beating the best. Playing at an Olympic Games would offer these countries a real chance of medals and a further opportunity to be part of the global sporting family.”
“Sevens supporters are like nothing I have seen before. They are passionate, dedicated and love sport. I know that once an Olympic Sevens tournament has finished, the Rugby fans would stay and enjoy all that the world’s greatest sporting celebration has to offer.”
Australia captain and Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 gold medalist Cheryl Soon, believes that Olympic Games inclusion would provide a further boost to a women’s game that continues to go from strength to strength.
“All my teammates and colleagues on the Sevens circuit play at the highest level of our sport. We want to play alongside the world’s top athletes competing at the highest level of their sport. It would be a privilege to do so."
Agustín Pichot, a bronze medalist at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2001, reinforced the support of players for the campaign. He said: “I have spoken with many of my fellow top players and each one agrees that competing at the Olympic Games would be an amazing experience. We would all be there and would be proud to call ourselves Olympians”.
Anastassiya Khamova, captain of the Kazakhstan Sevens team and a top figure in the women’s game, indicated that a Rugby Sevens tournament at the Olympic Games would provide the impetus for the further growth of Women’s Rugby.
“Women’s Rugby is a strong sport and in excellent health. I was one of 32 administrators and senior players at the first ever IRB international conference on Women’s Rugby in London in 2007. Every single one of us agreed that Sevens in the Olympic Games would be the greatest catalyst to the growth of the women’s game and the best thing that could possibly happen to our Sport.”
Mike Miller said: “We believe that Rugby Sevens has much to offer the Olympic Movement. We would bring a modern, youthful and skilful sport that can be added easily, efficiently and cost-effectively to the Olympic Programme. The Sevens format – seven players per team, two seven-minute halves, 24 matches a day – is made for television, made for sponsors and most importantly loved by fans and players alike.”
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