Rugby in the Olympics: Future
Rugby satisfies in every respect the criteria set out in the Olympic Charter for inclusion in the programme of the Olympic Games. Specifically:
- Rugby reinforces the ideals of Olympism, thanks to Rugby’s long-standing ethos of fair play and friendship.
- Rugby Sevens would reach a new and young audience, including Rugby’s 3 million players in 116 countries and the tens of millions of fans worldwide.
- Rugby Sevens does not need a purpose built stadium and would fill an exisiting stadium, adding an additional vibrant and youthful tone for the Games.
- Rugby Sevens would extend the number of potential medal-winning nations in what would be a true world championship. Countries that could aspire to Olympic success in Rugby include Fiji, Samoa, Argentina, South Africa, Kenya and New Zealand.
- Rugby would increase funds to grow the Olympic Movement, by attracting new commercial partners and spectators. At the same time Rugby would enjoy increased funding and access to facilities from National Olympic Committees as an Olympic sport.
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.
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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.
Player Quotes of Support
“More than anything, Sevens embodies the Olympic ideals of camaraderie, fair play and respect on and off the field of play.” – Shane Williams, Wales
“You play sport at the highest level to challenge yourself to be the best that you can possibly be and to compete with the best from all over the world, and what better stage to do that on than at the Olympics?” – Sue Day, England
“Going to the Commonwealth Games was amazing and to have the chance to go to the Olympics would be right up there with anything you could possibly dream of doing in sport.” – Tamati Ellison, New Zealand
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