The new up-start of the rugby world, 7s is set to take centre stage at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, and with 7s festivals popularity increasing by the day is it possible that the shortened version of the game might just be the key to rugby’s global success?
The appeal of 7s is obvious, short, fast games with lots of tries and little time wasted with slow set-pieces or teams sitting on the ball. The formats appeal however extends far beyond just high scoring games and running rugby. It provides a great access point for new fans to become involved with the game and even have a go themselves. As anyone who has played rugby at an amateur level will attest to, getting a team of 15 players together every week is hard going and often results in one team playing with a one or two man advantage. This season alone the league I play in has seen two teams drop out due to a failure to field a full-team on a regular basis.
This is obviously much less of an issue in 7s where a group of mates or co-workers are able to put out a team for one evening a week or even for the duration of a weekend for a full tournament. 7s provides the opportunity for small groups with limited time to play regularly at the sport they love in much the same way that 5-a-side does for football. This is a great way to increase participation and potentially bring new recruits into the game. Further to that the party atmosphere at a 7s festival offers something for all-comes and is a great way of promoting the game.
Possibly even more importantly is the lack of requirement on specific shapes and sizes to compete in 7s. Whereas a 15-a-side team is reliant of having a couple of big lads capable of scrummaging for the front row, 7s reduces this reliance on having bigger stronger players for a full team. Nothing better emphasises this face than the overnight stardom of former sprinter Carlin Isles who is now a global sensation on the IRB 7s circuit, just check out the video below to see what we mean.