Rugby in the Olympics: Future

  • Rugby is true to its character-building values – integrity, respect, solidarity, passion and discipline – which are shared with the Olympic Movement and help reinforce the ideals of Olympism
  • Rugby engages youth and has a strong social media following – the 2012/13 HSBC Sevens World Series (SWS) website attracted almost 10 million page views from a user base spanning 214 countries while online video attracted 2.5 million views across the season
  • Rugby Sevens has an Olympic and broadcast friendly format. It is fast, exciting and free flowing, has a passionate travelling fan base and vibrant, festival atmosphere with a growing broadcast appeal - SWS 2012/13 accumulated over 4,500 hours of total airtime across 149 territories
  • Rugby is a thriving global sport with participation up 19% since Rugby World Cup 2007, the (SWS) going from strength-to-strength, a growing Women’s Series and strong interest in hosting future rounds of the competition
  • The Olympic Rugby Sevens competition will 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 among others
  • The IRB is a committed and active member of the Olympic Family, adding an additional vibrant and youthful tone for the Games, starting with the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games in 2014
  • Rugby should help grow the Olympic Movement by attracting new audiences and partners. At the same time, Rugby will have the opportunity to benefit from closer collaboration with National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and government agencies as an Olympic sport
  • Rugby Sevens offers organisers an environmental and economic sustainable option to host cities as it does not require any new purpose built or single-use stadia
  • The Rugby Sevens tournament at Rio 2016 promises to be a spectacular event with preparations progressing well and excitement growing

The inclusion of Rugby Sevens in the Olympic Programme has provided a tremendous boost to the game, driving interest and participation around the world, in both established and emerging Rugby nations.

Fast, exciting and free-flowing, Rugby Sevens showcases great skill and speed to passionate spectators, a devoted travelling fan base and an ever-growing global broadcast audience.

The popularity of Rugby Sevens continues to accelerate, with the HSBC Sevens World Series proving a compelling platform for the sport. We have seen the addition of a competitive IRB Women’s Sevens World Series, new locations in non-traditional and potential markets and a growing appetite for hosting future rounds.

This is just the beginning of the journey. As an Olympic sport, Rugby is benefiting from NOC support, dedicated government funding and access to High Performance facilities and inclusion in school sports programmes. The impact in emerging Rugby nations is profound and already being felt; for example Rugby was added to the 2013 Chinese National Games Programme, USA Rugby, like all IRB Member Unions, is now a recognised member of their NOC, enjoying greater access to national Olympic resources, and the Netherlands Rugby Union is funding Women’s players with the assistance of its NOC. The more established Rugby nations are also benefiting with many national Men’s and Women’s teams receiving additional support from Olympic Solidarity for their Olympic Rugby Programmes.

With Rio 2016 just around the corner, the game is thriving in Brazil and a dedicated development plan is already bearing fruit. IRB planning and preparations are on track and excitement is growing as Rugby Sevens at Rio 2016 promises to be a spectacular and memorable event.

Olympic inclusion brings with it wider responsibilities and the IRB is a committed member of the Olympic family. We are actively involved with Olympic and wider collective sports policy, including programmes to protect clean athletes, player welfare, training and education. Our sport’s connections and influence with the global sporting community are now stronger than they have ever been.

Like the Olympic Movement, Rugby has unique values of integrity, respect, solidarity, passion and discipline at its heart. By focusing on these traits, that set it apart and appeal to players and fans across the globe, Rugby will continue to go from strength-to-strength as we look to cement Rugby’s place on the Olympic Programme beyond Tokyo 2020.


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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RWC Sevens 2013
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