Sevens confident about partying in Rio
July 30, 2014
Fans loved the show during the Commonwealth Games and the IRB are optimistic the party will continue in Rio © Getty Images
Sevens proved a raging success in Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games, and the IRB are optimistic the party can continue in rugby-poor Rio. The international body have put their necks on the line by declaring sevens must nail its Olympics debut in 2016 or risk it disappearing off the map again by 2024.
In order to grab the bull by the horns, the IRB are planning on extending the format to six days of competition and luring superstars of the 15s game to take part and boost the profile. Brazil will feature in the men's and women's draws, but the reality is the football nation cares little for the game they play in heaven.
Rugby-loving Scottish fans embraced the weekend of action won by South Africa at the iconic Ibrox Stadium, singing, dancing and cheering in the aisles to create a consistently deafening atmosphere.
Crowd engagement will be a key test for sevens to pass in Rio, and IRB chief executive Brett Gosper believes the spirit of the sport will transcend a lack of understanding of the rules and help spread the game's gospel.
"It would be always comfortable to go to a heartland rugby country with the Olympics. There's something reassuring about that," said Gosper. "But at the same ... you couldn't call England a beach volleyball country, and they managed to pack out every event for 14 days [in London 2012].
"We're hoping the interest in the event will cast a light on rugby itself and certainly the organisation is very confident we will fill the stadia for the sessions."