Supporting Rugby's Olympic Campaign

(IRB.COM) Monday 29 June 2009

 Supporting Rugby's Olympic Campaign
Shane Williams, the IRB Player of the Year 2008, is backing Rugby Sevens' campaign for Olympic inclusion

Players and coaches past and present have been unanimous in pledging their support for the International Rugby Board's campaign to get Rugby Sevens on the Olympic programme.

"I speak for the entire Rugby family when I say that we believe that Rugby would strengthen and support the Olympic Movement and that the Olympic Games would be great for Rugby." - Lawrence Dallaglio (England), RWC Sevens 1993 and RWC 2003 winner

"I am looking forward to the Olympics. That is the best thing that could happen to the Women's Game if it is included into the Olympics because automatically you are looking at another opportunity like this one and it will just grow the Game." - Denver Wannies, South Africa Women's Sevens coach

"Rugby embodies the Olympic values of fair play, respect and camaraderie, something that we, as referees, are proud of and believe makes the Game so special." - Alain Rolland (Ireland), Test referee

"It would provide us minnows of world sport with a wonderful opportunity to showcase to the world the skill and passion of our players and countries. It (the chance of a medal) is indescribable! We could not have imagined such a thing would be possible, but very soon that may be a wonderful possibility" - Stephen Betham, Samoa Sevens coach after winning 2009 Pacific Mini Games gold.

"On the Olympics it would be a dream come true, we have already put Women's Rugby on the map in Australia and the Olympic inclusion would make it all perfect. Sevens is so entertaining and it would change the Game even more in a positive wave." - Cheryl Soon (Australia), Women's RWC Sevens 2009 winning captain

"It would be fantastic for Rugby and fantastic for the Games. Playing the Commonwealth Games ranks as one of my greatest memories and it opened my eyes to what it must be like as a part of the Olympic family. It was something I savoured and I just wish I could have competed for an Olympic Gold medal."

"Being a part of the Olympic Games would serve to boost the development of Rugby worldwide. Not just for the teams who were competing in Dubai [at RWC Sevens 2009], but in reaching out and developing new markets. It is a very exciting prospect."

"Sevens launched my career and I would not have been the player or person that I am without it. I enjoyed the experience immensely and the special attributes of camaraderie and respect that comes with being on the Sevens circuit."

"The top players would come and play in an Olympic Games tournament and would be proud to be Olympians. I have no doubt about that. We are all in sport to be the best and the Olympic Games is the world's biggest sporting stage." - Jonah Lomu (New Zealand), RWC Sevens World Cup 2001 winner and Commonwealth Games gold medallist

"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?"

"Sevens is a highly skilful sport, hugely physically demanding and I truly think that it deserves to be part of the Olympics so I would gain a great deal of satisfaction from that finally being acknowledged." - Sue Day (England), Women's Sevens captain

"When you think of excellence in sport, the Olympic Games is the first image you think of. To be able to attend an Olympics as a Rugby player would be an amazing experience.

"Playing against the Barbarians in London last year relived an earlier time when Rugby was an Olympic sport, and Australia won gold. The possibility that Rugby could once again be played at the Olympics is an exciting prospect." - James O'Connor (Australia)

"I loved playing Sevens - and it was huge for helping me with my fitness, form and confidence. I know nearly every rugby player would give it everything to get into a Games team, and I know fans from New Zealand and the Pacific Islands would love to see their teams playing at the Olympics." - Ma'a Nonu (New Zealand)

"We need the government to take notice of rugby and the only sports that receive funding are the ones in the Olympic Games. Therefore if rugby can be allowed into the Olympics it will have a massive impact on the sport and that can only be good for the development of the game in China." - Zhang Zhiqiang (China)

"I am definitely all for the introduction of Rugby Sevens into the Olympic Games. I would be one of the first players to admit that it would be great for Rugby players to one day end their career with an Olympic Games and World Cup gold medal to their name.

"The Sevens game is both exciting and fun, easy to watch and understand and will be a great attraction at the Olympic Games. Rugby Sevens has become one of the most exciting spectacles on the annual sporting calendar and while the game has grown around the world, the competitiveness of the various countries competing on the Sevens circuit has exploded." - Jean de Villiers (South Africa),Rugby World Cup 2007 winner

"Sevens has been huge for my career, it gave me the chance to get some exposure and I also obviously enjoyed the game and loved playing it. It's led to me playing fifteens at a high level so I'm thankful for that, but I'd also go back and play it tomorrow if I had the opportunity.

"There's no doubt that I'd be at the trials. 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), Commonwealth Games 2006 gold medallist

"Olympic inclusion would mark an important milestone for our Game and would enable Rugby and its leading principles of camaraderie, fair play, respect and teamwork to inspire a growing number of young people around the world. We also believe that it is important that all athletes are given an opportunity to fulfil their dreams and compete at the highest level possible and there is no greater global sporting stage to achieve this than the Olympic Games." - Damian Hopley (England), RWC Sevens 1993 and International Rugby Players' Association (IRPA) Chairman

"The inclusion of Rugby Sevens at the Olympic Games would provide a massive boost to the growth of Rugby worldwide. Participation on the world's greatest sporting stage is a dream for all players and it would provide the chance to smaller nations to win an Olympic medal." - Santiago Gomez Cora (Argentina), all-time try scorer in IRB Sevens history

"To be an Olympian would be the absolute pinnacle of my sporting career. If I could don an Australian jersey and represent my country in an Olympic sport I'd love it. I played basketball before Rugby and I wanted to go to the Olympics. Then Rugby took over and became my priority. If Rugby was included in the Olympics, then to be a member of that Australian team in 2016 would be the ultimate." - Ruan Sims (Australia), Women's Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 winner

"I was very lucky to have taken part in our successful Rugby World Cup Sevens and Commonwealth Games campaigns in 2001 and 2002. For our future rugby players to be able to aim at the Olympic Games in 2016 and beyond would be an awesome opportunity." - Mils Muliaina (New Zealand)

"It would certainly be the highlight of our careers. Just as the players view the Olympic Games as the pinnacle of sporting achievement, the same can be said of the match officials. As a young sportsman, the Olympic Games inspired me, gave me a dream of what is possible to achieve in sport." Taizo Hirabayashi (Japan), Test referee

"Sevens brings not only a carnival atmosphere but also a quality competition, which is truly intense with no certainty of outcome, which is true sport. It gives people the chance to see true endeavour, it's the right stage for Sevens, it's the right stage for rugby and I hope, I just hope that come October the right decision is made." - Joe Lydon, former England Sevens coach

"The people in the States haven't really caught on to rugby yet, not because they don't think it's a great sport but because they don't know the rules, and I think if we get the bid to go into the Olympic Games it would send it over the edge." - Leonard Peters (USA), former NFL player

"I have had the privilege of playing for and captaining my country at the Sevens level and every year we face the challenge of new teams stepping up and winning tournaments. All of the historically strong Sevens nations like ourselves, Fiji, England and Samoa, have been toppled in the past years by new teams coming through such as Kenya, Portugal and, in particular, the current world champions Wales." - DJ Forbes (New Zealand), captain and IRB Sevens Player of the Year 2008

"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'." - Bryan Habana (South Africa), Rugby World Cup 2007 winner

"If Rugby went back to the Olympics it would certainly give an impetus to the sport. I think you would see countries like China and Russia embrace the sport as a major sport, put funding into it, run development programmes and we would see a lot more kids playing the Game and a lot more countries competing at the global level." - Eddie Jones, former Australia coach

"Sevens brings not only a carnival atmosphere but also a quality competition, which is truly intense with no certainty of outcome, which is true sport. It gives people the chance to see true endeavour, it's the right stage for Sevens, it's the right stage for rugby and I hope, I just hope that come October the right decision is made." - Gordon Tietjens, New Zealand Sevens coach

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

"The true beauty of modern Sevens is that there isn't a large gap between the top teams and some of the supposed 'lesser' nations. The World Series continues to demonstrate that upsets are always possible and a Cinderella team medalling in the Olympics is indeed a possibility.

If we get into the Olympics, though, I believe the sky is the limit, our sport would explode on an unforeseen global scale. Nations not traditionally associated with rugby will experience a profound growth and hopefully will compete with the traditional superpowers, creating an even more entertaining product and making Sevens a truly global game." - Al Caravelli, USA Sevens coach

"What the Olympics stands for is special and to be part of that, whether it be as a woman or a man, is important and I'm really hoping that this year when the boat comes in, women's rugby is part of the Sevens programme in the Olympics. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and I hope to be involved in that." - Maggie Alphonsi (England)

"The Olympic Games represents the ultimate in sporting competition, so to have the chance to participate at the Games would be the fulfilment of a dream for Rugby players all over the world.

"The opportunity to mix with athletes from other sports and enjoy the common thread of representing your country on the biggest stage in sport would be the experience of a lifetime." - Berrick Barnes (Australia)

"I think for a Rugby player to go to the Olympics, that is the ultimate in sport. You look at all the other sports, like world champs are good but it is the Olympics that really are the one.

"Obviously the [Rugby] World Cup is pretty significant, but I think it would make the Game hugely global, it would bring in the Americans and all that and the Olympics drawcard would expand the whole game worldwide." - Richie McCaw (New Zealand), captain

"Sevens is not only highly entertaining, but success is not restricted to the traditional heavyweights of the 15-a-side game. The emergence of Kenya over the past couple of seasons is evidence of that, and the Pacific Island nations, led by Fiji, have long been at the forefront of Sevens Rugby.

"Olympic inclusion would boost the chances of the Pacific Island countries having the chance to stand on an Olympic podium. That has to be great for the Olympic movement, not just for Rugby.

"Sevens also attracts multi-cultural audiences around the world. You think of Hong Kong over the years and the immense popularity of Sevens there. The drawing power of major tournaments around the globe also illustrates what desire there is for Rugby followers to be there at games to support their national teams." - Simon Poidevin (Australia), former Wallaby captain

"We're all on tenterhooks. It would be fantastic if Sevens got into the Olympics, especially if they had women's rugby alongside men's rugby." - Helen Buteme (Uganda), women's captain

"I believe Rugby Sevens would be the perfect fit for the Olympic Games. Sevens is exciting and fast. It is a Game which rewards speed and agility over strength and power, enabling teams from around the world such as Kenya, Russia and Tunisia to compete at the highest level.

"It also provides a high level of entertainment that has proven successful in attracting new young fans to the sport from around the world. More than anything, Sevens also embodies the Olympic ideals of camaraderie, fair play and respect on and off the field of play.

"These values are not immediately obvious in all sports, but in Rugby, you make friends for life, whether you play or support the Game at local, national or international level. The inclusion of Sevens in the Olympic Games would be a fantastic source of inspiration for young sportsmen and women around the world.

"I would love to represent Great Britain at the Olympic Games - the world's greatest sporting stage. I am sure that it is every top athlete's dream to participate in the Games and for Rugby players it is no different. We would love to be there and competing for Team GB would be exciting, rubbing shoulders with elite athletes from other sports." - Shane Williams (Wales)

"I'd definitely want to play and I'm pretty sure every other player would want to play in an Olympics. It's not often you get the opportunity to go the Olympics and I certainly won't be getting there for athletics or anything else, so yes definitely." - Ally Hogg (Scotland)

"You look at the Olympic Games as being the pinnacle of sport around the world. For sports such as Athletics, Basketball, Gymnastics and Swimming, they all see the Games as their pinnacle, why not for Rugby Sevens? To be able to compete at an Olympics would be an amazing experience." - Matt Giteau (Australia)

"I think Rugby can become big in our country. I think Rugby Sevens should be included in the Olympics because, for us in China especially, it would encourage people to play, especially youngsters. The chance to have rugby in the Olympics will see a boom in Chinese rugby." - Zheng Hongjun, China Women's Sevens coach

"This Sevens set-up is made for the Olympic Games and I certainly think that the rate of improvement in the Women's Game in particular has been sensational and this sport would add so much to the Olympic programme." - Simon Amor, England Women's Sevens coach and former men's captain

"Get Sevens in the Olympics. It's an awesome sport." - Richie Pugh (Wales), RWC Sevens 2009 winner

"There is no doubt about the benefits. We are trying to expand the game throughout the country and if we become part of the Olympics we will manage to do that." - Grigory Malyutin, Head of Women's Rugby at the Russian Rugby Union

"I have spoken to my fellow top players and we all agree that having the opportunity to compete for a medal at the Olympic Games would be something very special indeed. Participating at the Games would be a unique experience for the players, who would be proud to compete for the right to be called Olympians.

"We all grew up as sports fans watching the world's best athletes competing on the world's greatest sporting stage and it is very exciting to know that the Rugby Sevens has the chance of joining the Olympics." - Ollie Phillips (England), IRB Sevens Player of the Year 2009

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

"It would be sensational for Sevens to be in the Olympics. You just have to see how big the Games are to see that. The atmosphere at the Commonwealths was superb and to be able to mix with world class athletes from other sports at the Olympics would be special." - Lote Tuqiri (Australia)

"If it was to become an Olympic sport there would be a lot of interest, a lot of investment and a lot of growth that would be very positive for Hong Kong." - Rod McIntosh, Hong Kong Sevens coach

"I think that if the intention of the Olympics is to unite the people, then rugby is the best example of sport to show because everyone who plays rugby knows what this union represents … so I think rugby just needs to be in the Olympics." - Beatriz Futuro (Brazil), Women's Sevens captain

"We're all waiting on a big decision come October time and if it gets the go-ahead it will change the Game." - Ben Gollings (England), all-time leading point scorer in IRB Sevens history

"Rugby Sevens has so much to offer and will definitely add to the spectacle of the Olympic Games. The various Sevens tournaments around the world have all turned into successful events and while it is a fantastic form of the game for Rugby players, it is also an enjoyable sport for spectators - those who have knowledge of Rugby and those new to the game as well. It has a great ability to attract new audiences." -Fabian Juries, South Africa Sevens

"To play on the greatest sporting stage for any player would be amazing. It would be a great thing if it [Rugby Sevens] were to be part of the Olympics. It's one of the most exciting games you can watch and is a great family day out.

"You have to be fast and very fit, some of the fittest players in the world play Sevens. Sevens makes great players and if you look at some of the best players in the world, many have originated from Sevens.

"It's just so exciting because of the space you get and the amount of tries scored. It's something you never take your eyes off when you're watching and it's something which I think would make a massive contribution to the Olympic Games."

"There would be no greater sense of achievement to win an Olympic medal." - Thom Evans (Scotland)

"The atmosphere here [RWC Sevens] is definitely proof that Sevens can become an Olympic sport. It is also a sign of the fact that anyone can win this competition as was seen in the Cup quarter finals today. That is something that helps the campaign to make Sevens an Olympic sport and it is a sign of the growing strength of the lesser nations." - Benjamin Ayimba, Kenya Sevens coach

"There has always been a sense of magic about Sevens. The skill, the pace, the thrills - there is a massive enjoyment factor for players and spectators alike and it would surely fill a main stadium during the first week of an Olympics.

"One of the greatest outcomes from the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai this year was that eight different nations qualified for the semi finals across the men's and women's competitions.

"Those countries were Wales, Argentina, Kenya, Samoa, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA. How many other sports could come up with that sort of diversity and global spread?" - Mark Ella, former Wallaby captain

"It all bodes well for the Olympic decision. It has been great here all the way through. The upsets today have been amazing and for a small nation like Zimbabwe to come through and win is awesome for the event." - Liam Middleton, Zimbabwe Sevens coach

"For the Women's Game to be on the Olympic Games programme it would be a quantum leap for the Game." - Susan Carty, IRB Women's Development Manager

"Anybody who says Sevens shouldn't be an Olympic sport just needs to look at the atmosphere out there and look at all of the games that have gone on today [at RWC Sevens 2009]. All the finals and semis have been great. Rugby deserves a place at the top table of the Olympics and I'm hopeful that everybody who was here watching tonight will have seen that and will make the right decision. It's a sport that captivates the worldwide audience and that means it should be in." - Stephen Gemmell, Scotland Sevens coach

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

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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