The fast and furious game of rugby sevens has been included as a core sport for all Commonwealth Games since 1998 and will make its Olympics debut in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
First played in the Scottish borders town of Melrose as a variant of rugby union, the sevens truly came home for Glasgow 2014 with both the pool and knockout stages held at Ibrox stadium last weekend.
Characterised by a loud and enthusiastic party atmosphere, rugby sevens is a crowd-pleasing, high-scoring blend of speed and skill that pits two teams of seven players against each other in a match that lasts just 14 minutes. Consequently, action on the pitch progresses at lightning speed – blink or go to the concession stand and you’re likely to miss a crucial play.
We were there on Saturday night for the second session of the pool stage and saw 12 matches featuring 16 different teams from across the Commonwealth. This was our first experience of the sevens format and I think it’s safe to say that we both loved it and want to see some more. Although we were obviously supporting the home nations (England, Scotland and Wales all fielded teams), the highlight of the evening was the joy on the faces of Team Barbados as they received a rousing standing ovation after being thrashed 59 – 0 by New Zealand.
As well as being highly entertaining, the rugby sevens in Glasgow made history on two counts. First, the Kiwis had not lost a single Commonwealth Games match coming into the competition; however, they were eventually tripped up by South Africa in a thrilling gold medal decider. Second, a total attendance in excess of 170,000 spectators over the four sessions turned out to be a world record for the sport.
The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games has provided a fantastic pre-Olympics showcase for rugby sevens and marked it out as a hot ticket for Rio. Looks like Brazil will be in for a treat when the rugby sevens carnival finally comes to town.