IOC Decision: Reaction

(IRB.COM) Friday 9 October 2009

 IOC Decision: Reaction
Canada's new Sevens coach Morgan Williams labels the decision "a special moment"

The International Olympic Committee have confirmed Rugby Sevens will join the Olympic Programme for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, a decision celebrated throughout the global Rugby family.

Here is some of the reaction from the IRB bid team, players and Unions around the world:

Bernard Lapasset, Chairman IRB & bid leader: "This is truly an historic day for Rugby and the development of the game. It is wonderful to be part of the Olympic family, and this will also help in our efforts to allow as many people in as many countries as possible to play Sevens, and play rugby.

"The Olympic Games is the unique international sporting reference in the world and we are very proud to be on the Olympic programme in both 2016 and 2020. Of course, we now start to focus on 2016.

"I'd like to thank the team in Rio that will host the Games, for us and for everyone involved in the game, it's going to be a wonderful opportunity.

"I would like to thank all of our team. We've been a tight family, well advised and supported, and we have really achieved something great, like a rugby team, by working together to achieve our goal.

Mike Miller, IRB Secretary General: "It's a mixture of massive relief, joy and excitement as we look forward now to playing a full part in the Olympic programme in 2016.

"We're very pleased and proud that the IOC members have decided to include us for two Olympic Games. We are confindent that a Rugby Sevens tournament in Rio will be a huge success, and so we're confident about any review that might take place in 2017.

"Rugby and Rio are made for each other. Rugby Sevens events are a huge festival, great sport and a great time, and I think that's what the Olympic Games will be all about in Rio."

Jonah Lomu, All Black & New Zealand Sevens legend, member IRB bid team:
"I'm joyous, ecstatic - even though I won't be there to compete for my country in 2016, it's great to see that the future of rugby is going to be in great hands going forward, and on the biggest stage it can possibly be.

"And for the sport's best women competitors to be there too, raising the level of their game to new heights, just adds to the universal appeal that rugby and Sevens can bring.

"Rio and Sevens are just going to go hand in hand and it's only going to get better. If you are looking for enjoymemt you'll get it at the Sevens. You'll get good, fast entertaining games and also you can enjoy the crowd, because Sevens people love to enjoy themselves."

Cheryl Soon, Australia women's Sevens captain and World Cup-winner,member IRB bid team: "This is truly a historic moment for rugby around the world. It is difficult to explain exactly how elated I feel.

"For women's rugby this is huge, participation in the Games will inspire more girls to play, to dream of the world's greatest stage. I simply cannot wait for Rio 2016."

Agustin Pichot, Puma great,member IRB bid team: "Today's announcement is emotional for us all. Not just for us presenting, for Bernard and the IRB team, but for every player around the world.

"Rugby has reached out and it is time for the Rugby family to party!"

Anastassiya Khamova, Kazakhstan women's player and referee,member IRB bid team: "For countries like Kazakhstan this is a big, big decision. We will receive more central support, more children will want to play the sport and the chance of becoming an Olympian is so exciting!"

Humphrey Kayange, Kenya Sevens captain,member IRB bid team: "There will be a party in Nairobi, that's for sure. This is another massive lift for our sport. Playing on the world's greatest stage, showcasing our wonderful sport will inspire more men, women and children to participate in Africa.

"I am very excited, so are my team mates and the whole African Rugby community. Rio here we come."

Gordon McKie, Scottish Rugby Chief Executive: "As the country that bequeathed Seven-a-side rugby to the world - the master stroke of Melrose butcher Ned Haig - Scottish Rugby is naturally delighted to hear of today's decision by the IOC to welcome rugby anew to the Olympic family.

"Scottish Rugby believes that rugby will be given a massive global boost as a consequence of this decision."

Stephen Gemmell, Scotland Sevens coach: "It's great news for the sport globally. Over the last 10 years, Sevens has grown and we have seen the emergence of countries like Kenya who can now beat any team in the world.

"From a coaching and playing point of view this will be the pinnacle for everyone involved in the game and we will aim to give Scottish players the best possible chance of experiencing the Olympic Games in a GB team."

John O'Neill, Australian Rugby Union Managing Director and CEO: "This is a wonderful moment for our game, and a momentous decision by the IOC. There is enormous status attached to being an Olympic sport. We are extremely proud and honoured to say we are, finally, returning to the Olympic family."

"Everyone in Rugby will be celebrating our Olympic readmission. All our players, men and women, from those at the grassroots right through to the elite levels, can now have Olympic Games selection as an ambition.

"They can dream of climbing a medal dais, of receiving a gold medal. I know the younger players in our Wallabies squad will see it as a challenge to force their way into the Sevens squad in 2016."

Canada Sevens new coach Morgan Williams: "It probably never was on my radar as a rugby athlete and now coach to ever be involved in the Olympics, so this is a special moment to be sure. I think we will see a lot of new athletes all of a sudden be aware of rugby and make themselves available because of the Olympic aspect."


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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