With two years to go until Rugby Sevens makes its Olympic Sevens debut at Rio 2016, Brazilian boys and girls are getting into Rugby in record numbers.
Rugby participation has grown by 25 per cent since 2011 and, in 2013 alone, more than 9,000 boys and girls in Rio and Sao Paulo were introduced to the sport via the IRB’s Get Into Rugby mass-participation programme.
And as the thrill-a-minute sport gears up for the men’s and women’s competitions at the Deodoro Olympic Park, the venue played host to a special Rugby festival at the weekend, involving more than 1,000 children.
Meanwhile, Rugby’s preparations to ensure a successful Olympic debut are progressing with the qualification process now in place, unprecedented interest and engagement and a strong development programme underway to grow Rugby in Rio and across Brazil. In a further boost, Brazil men's and women's teams will both qualify automatically for Rio 2016.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset led the celebrations: "We are excited about Rugby Sevens’ Olympic Games debut and maximising the opportunity of competing on the world’s greatest sporting stage to reach out and inspire and engage new audiences and participants around the world.”
“As we reach the two years to go milestone, we are confident of delivering in partnership with all stakeholders memorable, competitive, and ultimately successful Rugby Sevens competitions at the Rio 2016 Games that the Olympic movement, Rio and Rugby will be proud of."
Fast, exciting and vibrant, with strong character-building values, Rugby Sevens has gone from strength to strength since the IOC voted overwhelmingly to vote the sport onto the Olympic programme and fans and players around the world have been expressing their excitement via social media.
IRB Chief Executive Brett Gosper tweeted: “TWO YEARS today until #RugbySevens @Olympics debut @Rio2016. How will you celebrate? #RoadToRio #RugbyBuildsCharacter”.
Via @Aussie7s, Australia star Alicia Quirk (@aliciaquirk) said: “It's all becoming real now”.
Scottish Rugby Union (@ScotlandTeam) tweeted a photo of its Sevens team celebrating a victory at the recent Commonwealth Games in Glasgow with the caption: "How good was this? Next Rio 2016!"
South African Rugby (@bokrugby) chimed in: “2 years until #RugbySevens @Olympics debut @rio2016_en How will you celebrate?”
Lapasset added: "The IRB, in partnership with the Brazilian Rugby Federation, continues to drive sustainable participation growth in Brazil. In the last year more than 9,000 boys and girls have been introduced to the sport via a variety of development initiatives.”
“To sustain the phenomenal growth, teachers, coaches and referees are being trained in Brazil and the IRB invested more than US$400,000 in both development support and high performance initiatives over the last year to grow participation while increasing competitiveness of the men’s and women’s senior national teams."
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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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