International Rugby Board President Bernard Lapasset presented an update today on the progress of Rugby Sevens to an assembled audience of international sports stakeholders at the Global Sports Forum in Barcelona.
The International Olympic Committee's decision to include Rugby Sevens in the Olympic Games just five months ago at their Session in Copenhagen provided a tremendous boost to Rugby and the enthusiasm felt across the Rugby Family at the time is already delivering visible progress around the world.
Lapasset, who successfully led the IRB team in their Olympic inclusion campaign, said: "Not only has the popularity of Rugby Sevens further accelerated since the IOC's decision with visibly increased attendance and broadcast figures for the opening rounds of the 2009/10 IRB Sevens World Series, we are also already witnessing significant developments in key new markets such as China and Russia.
"We are committed to ensuring that all our Unions have access to a development and tournament pathway that optimises the effects of Olympic Games inclusion. We are encouraging our National Unions to actively collaborate with their local governments and National Olympic Committees to develop strategies to foster the inclusion of Rugby in school curriculums as well as secure better funding for development programmes.
"We firmly believe that there are meaningful opportunities ahead and indeed have already witnessed positive results since October 2009 such as in Russia, where Rugby programmes are being developed within schools and across the country, and in China and Brazil where development programmes are being launched.
"We have been very warmly welcomed by members of the Olympic Family who have clearly indicated to us that they envision our contribution to the Movement in many areas beyond the Games alone. We will be meeting with the IOC again in May and look forward to providing further progress reports of Sevens success as we continue to build towards 2016."
Rugby legend Jonah Lomu who actively campaigned for the inclusion of Sevens in the Olympic Games was in Barcelona to take part in a Rugby demonstration involving over 80 boys and girls from the local community on Tuesday evening.
The former Commonwealth Games Rugby Sevens Gold medallist ran a coaching session, signed autographs and spoke about the positive effects of Olympic Games inclusion and his excitement for the future of the Sport.
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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