Rugby 7s Becomes Olympic Sport
Rugby 7s received an overwhelming yes vote to be added to the Olympic Games for 2016 and 2020 at the International Olympic Committee meeting in Copenhagen Friday.
Rugby received 81 yes votes and 8 no votes, with three abstentions. The IRB’s presentation lasted 20 minutes, during which there were presentations by IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset, CEO Mike Miller, Australia women’s 7s captain Cheryl Soon, Argentine star Augustin Pichot, Kazakhstan player and referee Anastassiya Khamova Humphrey Kayange of Kenya. New Zealand star Jonah Lomu was also there. The presentation centered heavily on the benefits the Olympic Games would get out of including rugby. They emphasized wide participation, the growth of women’s rugby, how the fans would stay to watch other sports, and the spirit of fair play.
In addition, Miller emphasized that rugby would not need a special stadium, and reemphasized that the 7s World Cup would be eliminated in favor of the Olympics should rugby be accepted. Questions from the IOC members were mostly about how teams would qualify and what the format of the tournament would be. Jonah Lomu’s answer to player availability was memorable. In addressing the fact that top players would all want to play in the Olympics, he said, “you just have to say where and when to play, and they’ll turn up.”