Rugby sevens, the seven-a-side version of rugby union has surged in popularity over recent years, turning into a global sport and even gaining a place in the 2016 Olympics. RugbyFix brings you the latest rugby sevens news and opinion, including coverage of the IRB Sevens World Series, rugby sevens at the Commonwealth Games and its development into an Olympic sport.
What is Rugby Sevens?
The shorter version of rugby union is played under most of the same rules as the fifteen man version, but with only seven players. The rules at the tackle ball remain unchanged and the lineout and scrum are the same but with fewer players. Scoring denominations in both versions are identical, drop goals and penalties are worth three points, tries are worth five points and conversions two points. While a half of union is 40 minutes, a half of rugby sevens is seven minutes, with one minute half time break. For a tournament final, each half is often extended to ten minutes each. Because of the reduced length and the extra space from fewer players, rugby sevens is known for its open running and quick scoring. The players themselves are renowned for their running lines, passing and handling skills. Many famous players cut their teeth in rugby sevens, such as Jonah Lomu, Christian Cullen, Zinzan Brooke, George Gregan, Joe Roff and Lawrence Dallaglio.
Why is Rugby Sevens so Popular?
Game results are more unpredictable in rugby sevens, with less of a gap between the best teams, unlike in rugby union which is traditionally dominated by a few teams at a time. For example, since 1993 the Rugby Sevens World Cup has been won by England, Fiji, New Zealand and Wales with Australia, South Africa and Argentina contesting finals. Since 1987 the Rugby Union has been won by New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and England. The only Rugby Union World Cup team outside of those winners to even make the final has been France.
The open running, exciting tries and unpredictable results make rugby sevens an extremely popular game, particularly for live audiences. The short length of each game, only fifteen minutes, allows entire tournaments to be played over a weekend. Tournaments will often have second or even third tier of finals, such as a plate final, allowing teams who are knocked out early still remain active in the tournament.
For all these reasons, rugby sevens tournaments are known for their festival atmosphere, with much dressing up and partying. Stadiums are usually filled with groups of people dressed in theme and dancing in the aisles.