Rugby Sevens makes welcome return in Rio

Special Report, by Charlie Liggins

 As well as golf, Rugby Sevens got the vote of approval to be added as a new sport at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this summer.

Rugby Sevens was one of seven applicants to be introduced as a new sport, beating squash, softball, baseball, roller sports and karate for a place at the Olympics.

Rugby sevens has been around for over a century with the sport first played in 1888 in Scotland, having been created by two butchers.

The Rugby World Cup Sevens trophy is called the Melrose Cup and countries now compete in the Rugby World HSBC Sevens Series, competing in 10 countries for the trophy. So far after the opening four rounds of the men’s competition Fiji, South Africa and New Zealand are all tied in first place.

All three have qualified for Rio 2016 after finishing in the top four of the 2014-15 series last year, with Great Britain qualifying in the same process. As well as Brazil who qualified as the host nation, Argentina, USA, France, Japan, Australia and Kenya will be in Rio. The winner of the Final Olympic Qualification Tournament will take the final place after it has been held in June.

The tournament will unfold over six days with the women competing in the first three days followed by the men, in the Deodoro Stadium.

The introduction of Rugby Sevens to the Olympics has excited many with England flanker Maggie Alphonsi saying: “What the Olympics stands for is special and to be part of that is important.”

Sonny Bill Williams, the 30-year-old two-time World Cup winner with New Zealand, has his eyes firmly set on Rio, saying: “Going back in time the best sportsman ever have been Olympiads.” Other stars of the 15-a-side game such as Australia’s Quade Cooper and South African wing Bryan Habana are also likely to feature in the summer.

Factfile:
Dates: Aug 6th-11th
Women’s Tournament: 6th – 8th August
Teams:
Brazil, New Zealand, Canada, Great Britain, Fiji, South Africa, Japan, Kenya, USA, Colombia and Australia.
Men’s Tournament: 9th – 11th August
Teams:
Great Britain, Fiji, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, USA, France, Brazil, Japan and Kenya.
Format:
The games last 14 minutes (seven each half) except the final which is 10 minutes each half.
Each try is worth five points with a drop goal giving you the chance to earn a further two points.

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