Rugby returns to Olympic programme at Nanjing
Rugby will make its return to the Olympic programme after 92 years at the second Youth Olympic Games scheduled to open in Nanjing on Saturday in the form of rugby sevens ahead of its reappearance at the Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro in 2016.
In 2009, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) members voted to readmit the sport to the Olympic programme. The sport was last played at the 1924 Paris Olympic Games.
At Nanjing, 144 young players will participate in the six men’s and women’s teams in the rugby competition, reports Xinhua.
Argentina, Fiji, France, Japan, Kenya and the U.S. will vie for gold in the men’s competition; while Australia, Canada, China, Spain, Tunisia and the U.S. will compete for top honours in the women’s event.
The International Rugby Board (IRB) confirmed the teams that will participate at the Nanjing Games. The teams that will be in Nanjing made the cut following a qualification process based on the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 rankings.
There will be an initial round-robin stage where teams will compete twice a day. Three points will be awarded for a win, two for a draw and one for a defeat. The top four teams from the group stage will make the semifinals.
Rugby sevens mostly follows the same rules and on-field dimensions of the same dimensions as the 15-player game.
“The sevens game is both exciting and fun, easy to watch and understand and will be a great attraction at the Olympic Games,” Jean de Villiers of South Africa, Rugby World Cup winner in 2007, told the IRB website.
“Rugby Sevens has become one of the most exciting spectacles on the annual sporting calendar and while the game has grown around the world, the competitiveness of the various countries competing on the Sevens circuit has exploded,” he added.
The matches will consist of two halves of seven minutes. This allows rugby tournaments to be completed faster. Another difference is that scoring occurs with much greater regularity, since the defenders are more spaced out than in the normal format.