After 92 years, rugby returns to Olympic Games at Nanjing

Updated: 2014-08-13 15:34


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NANJING, China - Rugby will make its return to the Olympic program after 92 years at the 2nd Youth Olympic Games scheduled to open on Saturday in Nanjing, China, in the form of rugby sevens ahead of its reappearance at the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.

In 2009, members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted to readmit the sport to the Olympic program. Nanjing will be the first time that rugby sevens has appeared on the Olympic program and 144 young players will participate in the six men's and women's teams.

Argentina, Fiji, France, Japan, Kenya and the United States will vie for gold in the men's competition; while Australia, Canada, China, Spain, Tunisia and the United States will compete for top honors 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 is sanctioned by the IRB, and 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."

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.

"Sevens is a highly skillful sport, hugely physically demanding and I truly think that it deserves to be part of the Olympics so I would gain a great deal of satisfaction from that finally being acknowledged," Sue Day of England, women's sevens captain told the same publication.