Friday, October 9, 2009

2016 is a Rugby Year!

Well, it looks like the US will get to defend it's back-to-back Gold Medals in the 1920 and 1924 Olympic games! That's right, Rugby Sevens was voted into the Olympics for the 2016 games in Rio with overwhelming support from the IOC. It looks like they are going to do a 4-day, 12-team tourney for both men and women.

They are also adding some fringe sport called "golf." I guess the easiest way to describe it is one-man curling without ice and metal field hockey sticks instead of brooms. Sounds a little too slow and obtuse for a global audience.

Check out the full USA Rugby press release after the jump. Pretty awesome for our sport and I was interested to see that the 2010 USA Sevens tourney is moving from San Diego to Vegas. Anyone else feel like watching international rugby in Vegas? Yeah, me too -- I am sure that is what Sweet Justice wants to do over the Valentine Day weekend (cue Rough Justice > yoke).

COPENHAGEN , Denmark - The global rugby family are celebrating the announcement that Rugby Sevens will be included at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro .

An overwhelming vote in favor of inclusion by the International Olympic Committee members at the 121st Session in Copenhagen means that the world’s top men’s and women’s rugby players will have the opportunity to compete for an Olympic Gold medal, the pinnacle of sporting achievement.

Bernard Lapasset, President of the International Rugby Board, said: “This is a historic moment for our sport and for the global Rugby community, who were united in support of our campaign.

“We are excited and honored to be joining the Olympic Games and I would like to thank the IOC members for believing in our Olympic vision and our values and recognizing that Rugby Sevens is a perfect fit for the Olympic Games,” Lapasset added.

“We are now looking forward to working in partnership with the IOC to develop and implement a Rugby Sevens tournament in Rio that will reach out to new audiences and inspire a new generation of sports fans around the world.”

The Olympic Games will be the pinnacle of the sport for rugby athletes, with the best men’s and women’s players in the world extremely excited to be able to showcase their talent on the world’s greatest sporting stage.

“Inclusion will provide a massive boost to the development of the game not only in the U.S. , but worldwide,” USA Rugby’s CEO Nigel Melville said. "Rugby has grown steadily in popularity across North America in recent years, but Olympic inclusion could attract thousands of new participants and crossover athletes.”

Presently there are 116 nations playing the Game, but the Olympic family currently stands at 205 nations, and through the platform of the Games, rugby could reach out to more nations and more men, women, boys and girls worldwide.

“The Olympics are deeply engrained in our sports psyche and the explosive, exciting, unpredictable and highly competitive nature of Rugby Sevens will be a huge draw for a whole new set of fans,” Women’s Sevens Team member Jen Sinkler said. “For the women’s game in particular, we could see the popularity grow in a similar fashion as women’s soccer did over a decade ago.”

"I don't think people realize yet how big this could be for rugby," said IRB Chief Executive, Mike Miller. "The Olympic Games is the biggest stage in the world for sport. It would be massive for the game."

The sport of rugby was actually included in four previous Olympic Games in 1900, 1908, 1920 and 1924. The Americans are technically the two-time defending Olympic gold medal champions, following wins against France in both 1920 and 1924. The last Olympic rugby match was played at Colombes stadium in Paris and the USA took the gold with a 17-3 victory before 30,000 fans.

"From an early age, Americans believe that the greatest success an athlete can achieve is becoming an Olympian and competing in the Olympics," Men's Sevens Coach Al Caravelli said. "With this inclusion, I believe we will see more athletes taking up rugby who previously played other American sports. The United States has a massive quantity of these untapped athletes and one of our goals will be to convert these athletes into rugby players."

Both the Men’s and Women’s U.S. National Sevens Teams are currently preparing for their upcoming international season, with their first international tournament held in Dubai , UAE. Currently, the U.S. Men's Sevens Team is ranked 11th in the world, while the U.S. Women’s side is third.

America is also featured as one of the eight IRB Sevens World Series stops and is the largest international rugby event held in the U.S. Bringing in a crowd of over 35,000 during the two days of men's and women's sevens competition in 2009, this upcoming year's event, which is set for Las Vegas on Presidents’ Day weekend, is looking to be bigger and better than ever.

For more information on the U.S. Sevens Team or to set up interviews, please contact Sara John at or visit

For more information on the USA Sevens, please visit

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