Rugby Goes Olympic

According to the BBC, the International Olympic Committee has voted to include golf and rugby in the roster of sports for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. This will not, I hasten to add, be the full blood-and-guts, two-hour-game format of rugby that we mostly see on TV. Rather it will be the much shorter, all-action seven-a-side game.

Many of you will have seen 5-a-side soccer, which is generally played indoors on a pitch about the size of a basketball court. Rugby players would never do anything so wussy. Rugby Sevens is played outdoors on a full-sized pitch. There is a lot of running involved. The game emphasizes speed and ball skills rather than the brute strength that is often a feature of the 15-a-side game. Because of the pace of the game, each half is only 7 minutes long rather than 40, which makes it much easier to fit a good tournament into the Olympic format.

The Pacific Island nations are very, very good at this game, and it would not surprise me to see a country like Fiji or Tonga take gold in Rio. However, the usual elite rugby-playing nations should also figure strongly in the competition. Modesty forbids me from mentioning which country currently holds the Rugby Sevens World Cup, but there is a clue somewhere in this post.

6 thoughts on “Rugby Goes Olympic

  1. This will probably be many US Americans first introduction to Rugby (if it isn’t on at 4 AM ET). I think it would be good for the game in the USA.

  2. I was sorry that they weren’t able to get golf on the program for the Atlanta Olympics in 1996; playing Olympic golf at Augusta National would have been spectacular. But the chance to see Olympic golf played on one of the Royal and Ancient links courses is equally enticing.

  3. Tom S:

    I’m sure it will be. Sevens can be a very exciting game. The USA team isn’t bad either. They didn’t get out of their group in the last World Cup, but they did win a game (against Georgia, they lost to Fiji and France). There’s also a world league, in which the USA finished 11th.

  4. This will not, I hasten to add, be the full blood-and-guts, two-hour-game format of rugby that we mostly see on TV.

    For some reason I kept expecting this sentence would turn out to be about the golf.

  5. I didn’t know the US is good in the game of Sevens. You don’t see it on places like ESPN or ESPN2 in America. 7 minute halfs mean a very short game (unless there are a lot of stopages like in American Football).

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