Have you heard? The Pan American Games have welcomed in 7s for rugby for the 2011 games. Via USA Rugby:
The Pan American Games a Big Step Ahead for Rugby in the U.S.
BOULDER, Colo. – USA Rugby, along with the International Rugby Board (IRB), has welcomed the news that the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) will include Rugby as a participation sport in the 2011 Pan American Games sporting program. PASO voted for Rugby’s inclusion at its recent General Meeting in Rio de Janeiro.
The participation of Rugby in the form of Sevens in the Pan American Games has been a goal of USA Rugby and the IRB. The confirmation is another significant boost for the sport and the discipline of Rugby Sevens is a very popular inclusion in several major multi-sport events including the Commonwealth Games, World Games, Asian Games and South Pacific Games. Rugby is experiencing significant growth in the Americas and the IRB currently has 21 Member Countries in the region.
“This is very significant for several reasons,” said Bob Latham, Vice Chairman of USA Rugby’s Board of Directors. “It represents acceptance of rugby in another multi-sport hemispheric event and demonstrates rugby’s appeal on all continents, which will be a boost to the effort to get rugby into the Olympics. It will also give us enhanced benefits and greater standing with the USOC. And it will provide a high profile competition for our 7’s athletes. We are very pleased with PASO’s decision.”
The inclusion of Rugby Sevens in the Pan American Games follows meetings between the IRB and PASO representatives over the last few weeks and a presentation made by PARA Chairman (Pan American Rugby Association) and IRB Council Member, Carlos Tozzi, to the PASO General Meeting. The IRB believes the decision by PASO will further strengthen Rugby’s case for its reintroduction within the Olympic Games sporting program.
“The IRB is delighted that PASO has recognized the tremendous attraction and value of Rugby and has elected to include the sport within the program for the 2011 Pan America Games. This is another exciting development for Rugby Sevens which continues to go from strength to strength and has a proven track record of success at most major international multi-sport championships,” said IRB Chairman, Dr Syd Millar.
“The final day of the 2006 Commonwealth Games Sevens Rugby competition in Melbourne was played in front of a world record, single day, Rugby Sevens crowd of over 50,000 people as the Telstra Dome was completely sold out. I am sure that Rugby Sevens will prove a successful addition to the Pan America Games,” added Dr Millar.
“We are very proud to be a part of the PASO sports family”, said Mr Tozzi. “The decision reflects the growth of Rugby throughout the continent and we are excited about showcasing Rugby and in particular Sevens in Guadalajara, Mexico,” he added.
The popularity of Rugby Sevens is underpinned by the continued success of the annual IRB Sevens World Series and the IRB Rugby World Cup Sevens. The Rugby World Cup Sevens 2005 tournament in Hong Kong was played in front of a record three-day sell out crowd of 120,000 people. The 2009 tournament, to be held in Dubai, will be the first to feature a women’s tournament running alongside the men’s.
The IRB’s commitment to Rugby in the Americas is highlighted by: the successful staging of the IRB World Cup Sevens 2001 in Punta del Este, Argentina; the USA hosts one of the eight annual tournaments of the IRB Sevens World Series in San Diego (the other venues are Dubai – UAE, Hong Kong – China, Wellington – NZ, Adelaide – Australia, London – England, Edinburgh – Scotland and George – South Africa); the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2006 was staged in Edmonton, Canada.
The IRB remains totally committed to Rugby’s reintroduction as part of the Olympic Games sporting calendar. The IRB continues to be present at IOC sessions, including last week’s meeting in Guatemala.
Rugby’s showpiece tournament, the IRB Rugby World Cup, is now firmly established as the world’s third largest sporting event with two million tickets now sold for the tournament, while an expected global audience of 4 billion will watch the tournament on television around the world in over 200 countries.
USA RUGBY, founded in 1975, is the national governing body for rugby and is a member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the International Rugby Board (IRB). The organization is responsible for the development of boys, girls, high school, collegiate and club athletic programs, and ultimately, the nine national teams representing the United States in international competition.
Of course, people are already complaining because it’s not 15s. And yes, sure I’d like to see 15s played in these international events too, but it’s just not as feasible. A 7s tournament can be played quickly in a matter of days with lots of teams, where 15s would take weeks and require depth on teams that most countries can’t always provide.
For me, any rugby in an international event is good for ALL of rugby. The more the better. Here we come (again!) Olympics.