WRU Applauds Olmypics Sevens Decision

The WRU has expressed its delight at the decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to recommend Rugby Sevens for inclusion in the Olympic Games.

The Union says the decision to include Rugby Sevens in the Olympics would deliver a major boost to the game of rugby, offering male and female rugby players around the world the opportunity to compete for Olympic medals for the first time since 1924 when the fifteen a side game last featured at the Games.

If the recommendation is accepted by the full IOC Congress when it meets in October, rugby would be part of the 2016 Olympic Games.

WRU Group Chief Executive, Roger Lewis, said: “The inclusion of Rugby Sevens in future Olympic Games would deliver a massive new audience to our game and help build the global reach of women’s and men’s rugby.

“The impact of the Olympic Games is phenomenal and rugby’s inclusion would also help to sustain our support in its existing strongholds because the lure of winning an Olympic medal will inspire participation in sevens and fifteen a side rugby at all levels.

“Sevens is ideally suited to the Olympic ideal because it is a fast and condensed form of the sport with simple rules which newcomers can quickly understand. Here in Wales we are currently Rugby World Cup Sevens champions and I know we have the players to compete for inclusion in any team selected to represent the United Kingdom.”

WRU chairman David Pickering, a member of the IRB Council said, “We’ve been working hard behind the scenes for several years to achieve this and it is an incredibly positive development for the game of rugby. In Rugby we are already familiar with the concept of a Team GB through the British & Irish Lions so transferring that to Sevens would be an easy fit.I am certain that a UK team would instantly prove a great success and attract an important following.

Rugby Sevens is an extremely exciting and broadcast friendly sport that is exhilarating for both spectators and television audiences. Sevens has a young following and a massive travelling fan base which would deliver a vibrant and passionate atmosphere during the Games.

The inclusion of Rugby Sevens in the Olympic Games would also offer medal potential for smaller nations – many of whom have been increasingly successful in the IRB World Sevens Series – bringing a new Olympic dream alive for many of them,” he said.”

WRU Head of Rugby, Performance and Development Joe Lydon added:

“Sevens is an important part of our international development pathway and this news is sure to add an injection of energy and inspiration into the game in Wales. This decision has come at a time when we are focused on developing the sevens game in Wales following our recent success at the Rugby World Cup Sevens and it will certainly help us to achieve our aims more quickly.”

Rugby World Cup Sevens winning captain Lee Beach said, “It would be an enormous honour to be part of a GB team at the Olympic Games. I have represented Wales in Sevens at the Commonwealth Games and now the Rugby World Cup but to represent Great Britain at the Olympics would be the stuff of dreams.

“Playing for the British and Irish Lions is the top of the ladder for the fifteen-a-side game and the Olympics would be the pinnacle of the Sevens game. I think everyone would benefit – rugby union, the fans and the Olympic Games.”

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