Rugby Sevens will know its Olympic fate in October when the International Olympic Committee assembly meets in Copenhagen. But Sevens could actually be in the Olympics, earlier than the anticipated 2016 Games, at the 2012 Games in London.
Rugby Sevens will know its Olympic fate in October when the International Olympic Committee assembly meets in Copenhagen.
But Sevens could actually be in the Olympics, earlier than the anticipated 2016 Games, at the 2012 Games in London.
It's understood there have been discussions behind the scenes about Sevens being included as a demonstration sport in three years time with the option of playing the matches at either Twickenham or Olympic Park, the venue that will host the athletics and opening and closing ceremonies.
The costs of bringing sevens into the Olympics would be minimal, while the exposure could be huge, and although they do not go towards a country’s tally, medals are still given out for demonstration sports.
However, when asked about having sevens in London, International Rugby Board boss Mike Miller gave little away.
"At the moment it's about 2016 and we await the vote on October 9 and then we'll see where we go from there," Miller said.
"If we get in for 2016, then we'll see if there are opportunities and will talk about them then."
But New Zealand sevens coach Gordon Tietjens says it would be great to have sevens playing a small part in the next Olympics and it would provide an ideal opportunity to see how things worked before 2016.
"You'd find that it would be massively supported," he said.
"With it being a demonstration sport you'd be looking at it as a learning experience, to see what you could do better the next time," he said.
"From a players' perspective, it gives some of those players who probably won't be available in 2016 an opportunity to go to the Olympics."
Rob Vickerman was part of England’s Rugby World Cup Sevens squad in Dubai and he recently spoke about what it would mean to have Sevens as a demonstration sport in 2012 for some of the older Sevens players - sharing Tietjens sentiments.
“I heard there might be a dry-run for 2012 which would be the biggest achievement for me. I think everyone wants to test themselves on the highest rung of the ladder and that would be in the Olympic Games,” said the Newcastle player at the Middlesex Sevens.
Women added to IRB World Series?
Meanwhile, Miller says the IRB could add a women's competitions to the men's IRB World Series.
Although there is little depth to women's sevens globally, if it becomes an Olympic sport there will be a high demand from countries to play in international tournaments.
The first time women played at the same tournament as the men was at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai, but Miller says that could change.
"At some point we would have to look at whether as part of the Sevens World Series there should be a women's element or not," he said.
"The strength and depth isn't quite there yet, so we have to see how things develop over the next couple of years. Certainly, we'll be investing more in women's regional tournaments and we'll see how it grows."