Why Today's Gold Medal Match for Rugby Sevens Matters
Awash in a sea of thousands and thousands of hours of Olympic coverage, the trained eye can find 14 minute snippets of pure bliss. 2016 is the inaugural year of rugby being included in the Olympic Games (15s used to be played but was removed after the 1924 Games when the USA demolished France). At some point in the future, I’ll have a break down for Americans to understand the wonderful game of rugby but since this is sevens, there really isn’t a whole lot to it. 7 men (or women, shout out to gender equality) face off against 7 other man, on a field the size of a soccer pitch, with one oversized, lace-less football. There are 2 goal posts, used in much the same way that football goal posts are used and time is split into two 7 minute halves. That’s right, 7 minutes AND it’s a running clock so the clock can be just as much of a challenge as the opposition is. Sevens is the more watered down version of rugby union, think of it like 7 on 7 football. Emphasis is on scoring and the small, quick specialists are the belles of the ball.
Ok, I may have a SLIGHT bias against sevens, seeing as I am a person of size. This “watered down” game is every bit as physical and demanding as it’s big brother, just featuring a faster pace where men of my body type may not fare as well (Read: you need to be able to run 50 yards without collapsing). Scrums, line outs, and tough running are NOT sold separately, unlike 7 on 7 football, and the sport is much more stand alone. Maybe the NFL vs Arena Football would be a more apt comparison but if you’re learning about rugby from an asshole like me, you’ll take anything you can get.
In just a few short hours, the island nation of Fiji will take on the equally beautiful island nation of Great Britain.
(I’ll take the robust chimney sweeps any day)
This will not only prove to be an awesome match up between top tier athletes but gives even more credence to the American rugby movement (it’s not a campaign anymore). Sure, the Eagles (USA) finished 9th in Rio but rugby in the Olympics just drew soooooo many more American eyes to the product that one can only dream about the success the future US national team will have, 15s and sevens. As a cheaper alternative to football, rugby WILL become a mainstay in the US, starting from high school on up. It’s already becoming popular (and financially feasible) in American inner cities, which is the same case with basketball and American basketball is second to none. There’s even a professional rugby league in the US that was looking to expand BEFORE the first season. Get on the rugby train, or get run over!’
(I met Danny Barrett in San Diego once. Chill guy, wants me to ruck for me on the national team.)