IRB to use Olympic sevens for rugby growth - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

IRB to use Olympic sevens for rugby growth

Luke Phillips 02/12/2010 06:13:11 AM Comments (0)

The inclusion of rugby sevens at the 2016 Olympic Games will act as a "calling card" to grow all forms of the game on a global level, the sport's governing body said on Wednesday.

The abbreviated form of rugby union, a high-octane game featuring seven-a-side teams competing in pool action before progressing to a knock-out stage, was accepted by the International Olympic Committee for the Rio Games.

And Mark Egan, head of development at the International Rugby Board (IRB), said sevens was ideal for growing the shortened game and full 15-a-side rugby, for both men and women.

"It's a very exciting time for sevens with its inclusion in the Olympics," Egan said, speaking ahead of the opening Dubai leg of the IRB Sevens World Series which kicks off on Friday.

"We've had a lot of success in multi-sport games over the years. The Asian Games and Commonwealth Games were both very successful.

"There are 205 National Olympic Committees and rugby has 117 member unions, with Iran just accepted as associate member, so that makes 118.

"We have another 80 countries where we can take our sport to. Sevens is one of rugby's greatest calling cards. When you put a sevens tournament in a place, it leaves behind a great legacy and impression of our sport."

Egan said that a 12-strong review panel, including high-performance managers, coaches, women's rugby officials and IRB staff had been working on a plan for rugby sevens, and all IRB member unions had been surveyed on where the sport was going in their countries.

"We have to make sure 2016 is successful," he said. "We'll be working very hard over the next six months to finalise the strategic plan and get it approved by our council in May.

"In the plan, we look at development, high-performance, competition models, how we leverage the opportunity of the Olympics, how we make sure member unions link sevens growth to 15s.

"The key theme is that this is an opportunity to grow the sport, not just sevens.

"Our current plan has the target of growing membership from 3.5 million to six million by 2020. There's a lot of work to be done and sevens will help us."

Egan said that sevens would not be included as a demonstration sport at the 2012 London Games, adding that key principles had been established over 2016 qualification models, with IOC approval for that coming only in 2014.

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