Rugby sevens: Wikis

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Rugby sevens
Kenya v Tonga try.jpg
Kenya scores a try against Tonga during the 2006 Commonwealth Games
Highest governing body International Rugby Board
Nickname(s) The Borders Game[1], The Scottish Game/Code[1], the Abbreviated Code[1], the "Short Game", Seven-a-side, Sevens, 7's or 7s and VIIs.
First played 1883
Characteristics
Contact Full Contact
Team members Seven
Mixed gender Separate competitions
Categorization Team sport, Outdoor, variant of rugby union
Equipment Rugby ball
Olympic Admitted in 2009, will be in 2016 Summer Olympics

Rugby sevens, also known as seven-a-side and VIIs, is a variant of rugby union in which teams are made up of seven players, instead of the usual 15, with shorter matches. The game originated in Melrose, Scotland, where the Melrose Sevens tournament is still played annually. The game is popular at all levels, with amateur and club tournaments generally held in the summer months. Sevens is one of the most well distributed forms of rugby, and is popular in parts of Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas, and especially in the South Pacific.[2]

Notable international competitions include the IRB Sevens World Series and the Rugby World Cup Sevens. Rugby sevens is also played at some multi-sport events such as the Commonwealth Games, taking place three times (1998 - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 2002 - Manchester, England and 2006 - Melbourne, Australia), each time the gold medal being won by New Zealand.

Rugby sevens is now recognised as an Olympic sport and will make its debut in the 2016 Summer Olympics. This follows a vote by the executive board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to include the sport. That decision was backed at the 121st International Olympic Committee Session in Copenhagen on October 9, 2009.[3]

Contents

Overview

Rugby sevens is sanctioned by the IRB, and is played under substantially the same laws and on a field of the same dimensions as the 15-player game. While a normal rugby union match lasts at least 80 minutes, a normal sevens match consists of two halves of seven minutes with a one-minute half-time break. The final of a competition can be played over two halves of ten minutes each, with a half-time break of two minutes. (In the IRB Sevens World Series, only the Cup final, which determines the overall winner of an event, is played with 10-minute halves; all finals for lower-level trophies are played with 7-minute halves.[4]) This allows rugby tournaments to be completed in a day or a weekend. However, sevens scores are generally comparable to union scores; scoring occurs with much greater regularity in sevens, since the defenders are more spaced out.

Many sevens tournaments have a competition for a cup, a plate and a bowl, allowing many teams of different standards to avoid leaving empty handed.

Sevens tournaments are traditionally known for having more of a relaxed atmosphere, than fifteen-a-side games, and are often known as "festivals". As The Encyclopedia of Rugby Union Football (1976) puts it, they gained their "popularity as an end of season diversion from the dourer and sterner stuff that provides the bulk of a normal season's watching."[5]

Fans frequently attend in fancy dress, and entertainment is put on for them.

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Playing area

Sevens is played on a standard rugby union playing field as defined in the International Rugby Board's handbook.

Teams and positions

Teams are composed of three forwards, one scrum half and three backs.

Scrums are composed of just three players from each team. Because of the speedy nature of the game, good sevens players are often backs or loose forwards in fifteens rugby.

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Variations to the Laws of the Game

A sevens scrum

There are several variations in laws which apply to Rugby Sevens,[6] primarily to speed up the game and to account for the reduced number of players. The main changes can be summarised as follows:

  • Seven players per team on field (instead of 15).
  • Five substitutes, with only three interchanges (instead of 7 and 7).
  • Seven minute halves, though ten minute halves are allowed in the final of a competition (instead of forty minute halves).
  • One minute half-time, two minutes in finals (instead of ten minutes).
  • Matches drawn after regulation are continued into Extra Time, in 5-minute periods.
  • All conversion attempts must be drop-kicked (instead of having the option to place-kick).
  • Conversions must be taken within 40 seconds of scoring a try (instead of 60 seconds).
  • Three player scrums (instead of eight players).
  • Kick-offs: in sevens, the team which has just scored kicks off, rather than the conceding team, as in fifteen-a-side.
  • Yellow cards net a 2-minute suspension (instead of 10 minutes).
    • Suspensions are more severe in Sevens than in Fifteens. The team plays a man down for 1/7th of the match instead of 1/8th, and losing 1 man out of 7 opens up more space than 1 man out of 15.
  • Referees decide on advantage quickly (where one play usually ends advantage, not true in fifteens).
  • In major competitions, there are additional officials present (in-goal touch judges) to judge success of kicks at goals and hence the game is not delayed waiting for touch judges to move into position to judge conversion attempts.

History

Nestling beneath the shadow of the Eildon Hills, the Greenyards at Melrose in Scotland is the original home of rugby sevens

Rugby sevens was initially conceived by Ned Haig and David Sanderson, who were butchers from Melrose, Scotland as a fund-raising event for his local club, Melrose RFC, in 1883. The first ever sevens match was played at the Greenyards, the Melrose ground, where it was well received. Two years later, Tynedale was the first non-Scottish club to win one of the Borders Sevens titles at Gala in 1885.[7]

Despite sevens' popularity in the Borders, it did not catch on elsewhere until after WWI, in the 1920s and 30s.[8] The first sevens tournament outside Scotland was the Percy Park Sevens at North Shields in north east England in 1921.[7] Because it was not far from the Scottish Borders, it attracted interest from the code's birthplace, and the final was contested between Selkirk (who won) and Melrose RFC (who were runners up).[7] In 1926, England's major tournament, the Middlesex Sevens was set up by Dr J.A. Russell-Cargill, a London based Scot.[7]

One of the key events in the spread of sevens to England was the Middlesex Sevens, which had some formidable figures on its subcommittee such as Wavell Wakefield and Bill Ramsay.[8] The Middlesex Sevens were also a great fundraiser for charity, and in 1926, they raised £1,600 for King Edward Hospital, at a time when standard admission was a shilling, and stand seats coast five shillings.[8]

A 1927 description of the game at the Middlesex Sevens (also for King Edward Hospital) gives an idea of the novelty of the game to English people:

"You see the field is so open that if a man gets away with the ball a full sized gallop is required to catch him and very often it... wasn't there."[9]

Whereas the Scottish Borders were a rural area, with a population in the tens of thousands, albeit near Edinburgh and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the Middlesex Sevens were more or less in the suburbs of London, a densely populated area and transport hub, which was home to millions. As a result 10,000 spectators attended the second Middlesex tournament.[9] And while the Border Sevens had honed the skills of players in the Scottish rugby heartland, the Middlesex Sevens did likewise for London rugby, with locally based players such as the aforementioned Wavell Wakefield, Carl Aarvold (later Recorder of the City of London) of Blackheath FC, Wick Powell of London Welsh RFC, and John Tallent, who would later become chairman of the Four Home Unions Tours Committee.[8] They rubbed shoulders with various invitation sides such as Sale RFC in 1936, which included such players as Wilf Wooller and Claud Davey of Wales and Ken Fyfe of Scotland amongst their backs; and in 1939, Cardiff RFC, which included players such as Wilf Wooller again, and Les Spence and "Wendy" Davis.[8]

The first ever officially sanctioned international tournament occurred at Murrayfield as part of the "Scottish Rugby Union's Celebration of Rugby" centenary celebrations in 1973.

Opening ceremony of Hong Kong Sevens 2008

Due to the success of the format, the ongoing Hong Kong Sevens was launched three years later. In 1993, the Rugby World Cup Sevens, in which the Melrose Cup is contested, was launched. Three of the best known sevens competitions are the Hong Kong Sevens, Wellington Sevens, and the Dubai Sevens which now make up part of the IRB Sevens World Series.

The Scottish connection continued in the foundation of the Hong Kong Sevens in the 1970s, founded largely by expats such as "Tokkie" Smith, and in England, London Scottish RFC was strongly involved in the Middlesex Sevens from the start. The Hong Kong Sevens were ahead of their time, and an influential force in the modernisation of rugby union, for example, the Hong Kong Sevens were one of the first rugby union tournaments to attract major sponsorship, when the airline Cathay Pacific sponsored the 1976 tournament.[10] They also provided a level of cosmopolitan international competition, which tended not to exist in rugby before the first Rugby World Cup in 1987,[11] especially since Hong Kong was not seen as one of the "Big Eight", and other than some involvement with France, the British Commonwealth teams tended to be notoriously clannish. By 1986, the Hong Kong Sevens were held up as a positive example to others:

"This Seven-a-Side international tournament is without a doubt the most spectacular, exotic, best organized Rugby competition of its kind in the world, and it has consistently produced the highest standard of Sevens Rugby seen anywhere.
"I was not surprised on my first visit to see quality play from the Australian, New Zealand, Fijian, and British players, but I was staggered at the amazingly high quality play produced by countries I never even knew played Rugby. South Korea and Western Samoa were every bit as good as Japan and Tonga. Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore found their lack of sheer size and bulk an insuperable handicap, but against each other they displayed a range of running and handling skills which demanded unqualified praise. Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka and the Solomon Islands were inevitably outgunned by the teams from the major Rugby-playing nations but they still have a remarkably high level of skill which promises well for the future of the game.
"The week of the Hong Kong tournament allows 24 Rugby-playing nations to intermingle for several days, and the huge cross-fertilisation of ideas can only be beneficial in the long term for the emerging nations. After the first day of the play when the top eight seeded teams meet the smaller fish in a pool system, the second day is divided into three different competitions... The strength of this great tournament is that on the opening day the most famous players in the world share a pitch with unknown opponents from countries where Rugby is a minority sport... While tournaments like the Hong Kong Sevens continue to be played, Rugby administrators can be confident that the game will continue to thrive in over 100 countries worldwide."[11]

However, despite this apparent diversity, some of the same old problems which had dogged international rugby were still manifest in the Hong Kong Sevens in the 1980s - for example, in a photograph of the Hong Kong vs Bahrain game at the tournament in 1984, the teams do not appear to include anyone who is ethnically Arabian or Chinese, instead both teams are quite clearly of northern European ethnic origin.[12]

Rugby sevens continues to be popular in the Scottish Borders, where the ten most prestigious of these tournaments make up a league competition known as the "Radio Borders Kings of the Sevens".[13] Sevens has also taken strong root in the South Sea island nations of Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa, as well as the African nation of Kenya.

In many minor rugby nations, such as the case of rugby union in Poland, development, has tended to concentrate on rugby sevens as a means of introducing the sport to people.[14] Rugby sevens has become popular in places such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai, which are not so successful in the full fifteen-a-side code.

In honour of the role of Melrose RFC in the creation of rugby sevens, the club was inducted along with Haig to the IRB Hall of Fame in 2008.[15]

Major tournaments

For current information on this topic, see 2009–10 IRB Sevens World Series.
A lineout during the Kinsale Sevens
Argentina at San Diego 2008 Rugby Seven Tournament
Sailosi Tagicakibau with the winners cup at the Bournemouth Sevens

Other events (with alternative names in brackets):

Rugby sevens at multisport competitions

Rugby sevens being played at Melbourne's Telstra Dome during the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Commonwealth Games

Rugby sevens has been played at three Commonwealth Games since its first appearance, at the 1998 Commonwealth Games, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Appearing in 2002 (Manchester) and 2006 (Melbourne), it is now considered a "Core" sport by the Commonwealth Games Federation, necessitating its appearance at all future games, including the upcoming 2010 Games (Delhi), and the 2014 Games (Glasgow). It is one of the two male-only sports at the Commonwealth Games, the other being boxing.

Summer Olympics

There have been proposals for sevens to be included in the Olympic Games (it has been in the Commonwealth Games since 1998). However, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) turned down the bid for the purposes of the 2012 Olympics to be held in London.

Oswald later confirmed that he had never in fact watched a game of sevens, or indeed, fifteens rugby. Although disappointed, the IRB responded by pointing out that in terms of the Olympic motto: Citius, Altius, Fortius (faster, higher, stronger), a rugby player was more likely to possess all of these attributes than competitors in some other Olympic events.[citation needed] The IRB has recently moved to counter criticisms that it only proposed for a male Olympic tournament, establishing a series of Sevens events for women; the 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens included a women's championship for the first time.

On the 13 August 2009, the executive board announced that rugby sevens would be recommended for inclusion in the 2016 Olympic Games. On 9 October 2009, IOC voted to include rugby sevens and golf on the program for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The other 26 sports were also confirmed with a big majority of the votes.[17] The 2016 Summer Olympic program is scheduled to feature 28 sports and a total of 38 disciplines. There were two open spots for sports and initially seven sports began the bidding for inclusion in the 2016 program.

FIRA European Sevens

Portugal playing Romania in 2008

2005 FIRA European Sevens

Portugal defeated Russia 28-26 to the Grand Final of the 2005 FIRA European Sevens in Moscow to retain the trophy they have won for the last three years. Spain won the Plate with a 25-14 win over Germany, whilst Lithuania claimed the Bowl. Portugal topped their group on day one, recording four victories and a 7-7 draw, against Italy. In Pool B, Russia delighted the home fans with five wins out of five, including a 33-7 victory over France. They followed that up on day two by defeating Italy 17-0 in the Cup semi-finals, whilst Portugal beat France 22-7.

Women's Rugby sevens

A women's rugby sevens game in the USA

Women's rugby sevens has been dominated by New Zealand, with either the New Zealand team (1999-2001) or Aotearoa Maori Women’s Rugby sevens team (playing as New Zealand) [5] winning the annual Hong Kong Sevens tournament from 1997 until 2007. The United States won the Hong Kong Sevens in 2008 by defeating Canada in the final (New Zealand failed to send a team).

The inaugural Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament took place in Dubai together with the men’s tournament during the first weekend of March 2009. England defeated Canada 12-0 in the Bowl final while Australia edged New Zealand 15-10 in extra-time to become the first to win the Women's Rugby World Cup.

Women's rugby sevens was included in the IRB's successful bid to reintroduce rugby to the Olympics in 2016. It is also bidding for inclusion in the Commonwealth Games in 2018.

Rugby league sevens

Rugby league may also be played under seven-a-side rules, though this is less common as an alternative when compared with rugby league nines. Rugby sevens originated some years before the split between rugby union and rugby league, but the game had not spread from Scotland at this stage, and it was not until the 1960s, that an RL version of sevens emerged.

The game is substantially the same as full rugby league, however scrums involve only three players per team, and all kicks at goal must be made by drop-kicks. The major tournament was the World Sevens played prior to the start of the National Rugby League season in Sydney, but the tournament has been cancelled.

Rugby league sevens is particularly popular with pub teams — formed from the regulars at a particular public house, the reason for this is that it is often difficult for a single pub to form a full squad of 13 players and four substitutes of willing players.

See also

References

Printed sources

  • Bath, Richard (ed.) The Complete Book of Rugby (Seven Oaks Ltd, 1997 ISBN 1 86200 013 3)
  • Bath, Richard (ed.) The Scotland Rugby Miscellany (Vision Sports Publishing Ltd, 2007 ISBN 1905326246)
  • Jones, J.R. Encyclopedia of Rugby Union Football (Robert Hale, London, 1976 ISBN 0709153945)
  • McLaren, Bill Talking of Rugby (1991, Stanley Paul, London ISBN 0 09 173875 X)
  • Massie, Allan A Portrait of Scottish Rugby (Polygon, Edinburgh; ISBN 0 904919 84 6)
  • Richards, Huw (2007). A Game for Hooligans: The History of Rugby Union. Edinburgh: Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 978-1845962555. 
  • Starmer-Smith, Nigel (ed) Rugby - A Way of Life, An Illustrated History of Rugby (Lennard Books, 1986 ISBN 0 7126 2662 X)
  • Stubbs, Ray (2009). The Sports Book. Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 978-1405336970. 

Footnotes

  1. ^ a b c Bath, The Complete Book of Rugby, p29
  2. ^ The Spread of the Sevens, Melrose Sevens official site, retrieved 25th February, 2010
  3. ^ "Rugby sevens and golf get Olympic spot in 2016". BBC. 2009-08-13. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/olympic_games/8292584.stm. Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  4. ^ "2006-07 IRB Sevens World Series Media Guide" (PDF). International Rugby Board. http://www.irbsevens.com/NR/rdonlyres/7A7C20FC-056B-4CE6-B5A5-D4F6ECBF40F7/0/061026SL7sguidegeneric.pdf. Retrieved February 10, 2007. 
  5. ^ Jones, p122
  6. ^ "Seven-a-side Variations: Standard Set of Variations Appropriate to the Seven-a-side Game" (PDF). International Rugby Board. http://www.irb.com/NR/rdonlyres/5D619ADC-B698-4EDF-9DFB-0E9F00FC7736/0/060704LGLAWSEN_26b_Variations7s.pdf. Retrieved February 10, 2007. 
  7. ^ a b c d Bath, Scotland Rugby Miscellany, p82
  8. ^ a b c d e Starmer-Smith, p60
  9. ^ a b Grave, Charles Grave is Gay: At the Seven-a-Side Rugby Matches in Illustrated Sport and Dramatic News, 1927
  10. ^ Starmer-Smith, p144
  11. ^ a b Starmer-Smith, p142
  12. ^ Starmer-Smith, p146
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ [2] retrieved, 7th November, 2009
  15. ^ "IRB Hall of Fame Welcomes Five Inductees". International Rugby Board. 2008-11-23. http://www.irb.com/history/halloffame/newsid=2027752.html#irb+hall+fame+welcomes+five+inductees. Retrieved 2008-11-23. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Bath (1997), p29
  17. ^ [3]

External links

Tournament sites


Simple English

[[File:|right|thumb|300px|Melrose RFC]]

Rugby sevens is the shortened version of rugby union in which only seven players per side feature, instead of the full fifteen. The version of rugby union is very popular, with notable competitions including the IRB Sevens World Series and the Rugby World Cup Sevens.It is also played at events such as the Commonwealth Games and rugby league has also adopted the sevens format.

Rugby sevens was invented in Melrose, a small town in Scotland.

It is played under the same rules and on a field of the same dimensions as the 15-player game but a rugby sevens match lasts approximately 15 minutes (7 minutes aside with 1 minute half-time break) but the finals last somewhat more than 20 minutes; each half in a final is ten minutes instead of the normal seven minutes and the point system is similar to rugby union where a Try gets a team 5 points and conversion 2 points with 3 points for penalties and Drop-goals (drop-goals are very uncommon in sevens))[1]. Points scoring occurs with much greater regularity in sevens compared to fifteens, since there are more spaces for players to run . Scrums still exist within sevens, composed of just three players from each team. Given the speedy nature of the game, players are usually either from the backline or the trio of loose forwards in fifteens rugby.

References


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