Rugby sevens is an alternate version of rugby (union) played on a normal sized field but with only seven players per side (instead of 15) and only 7 minutes per half (instead of 40). These simple changes result in a game that’s much more action-oriented and less strategy-oriented than standard rugby. The seven minute halves mean the players can go ALL OUT as there’s no reason to conserve energy. The emphasis on speed and action over tactics and brute force is an absolute field-leveler.
In standard rugby, there are only about eight nations that are truly competitive and a few more that can sometimes hang with the best. In rugby sevens, it seems there are two or three dozen truly competitive nations and they come from all over the world. For example, four semi-finalists at the recent Rugby World Cup Sevens were Argentina, Wales, Kenya and Samoa. WOW. Samoa doesn’t even have 200,000 people. That’s like if Des Moines had a rugby sevens national team. Kenya isn’t known as a rugby power in any circles but has been very speedily building a reputation in sevens.
Rugby has been trying to get rugby sevens added to the Olympic program. The competitive results from the recent World Cup will certainly help. Other selling points are that an entire rugby sevens tournament can be held in 2 or 3 days. A typical sevens tournament involves a full-day admission fee and features game after game. Teams often play twice in one day, which still equals less than a half of standard rugby. Rugby has sworn to Satan that it will do whatever the Olympics wants to be added, including canceling the World Cup Sevens so that the Olympic tournament becomes the pinnacle of the sport and also ensuring that all of the biggest rugby stars are there. In other words, rugby wants to be there and should be.