Great For Rugby That 7s Included In Rio Olympics

Tom Varndell, c/o Richard Lane Photography

I had a cracking night at the final of the JP Morgan Asset Management 7s at Bath last week.

And not only because, in my role at an ESPN pundit, I correctly predicted both finalists and, then, the result of the final itself!

There was some superb rugby on show and the final, which saw London Irish win after fighting back from a 28-5 deficit at half-time, was one of the best games I have seen in years.

There was a terrific crowd at The Rec but it was a shame in some ways that few people would have seen it on TV as Olympic fever gripped the country.

I have to admit to be part of that nationwide obsession with the London 2012 Games. It has been on TV in the Varndell household from first thing in the morning to last thing at night.

I have been watching sports I never knew existed. It has been compelling viewing.

And 7s rugby will be a part of the next Olympics in Rio in 2016. That is great news for fans of not only that format of the game but rugby as a whole.

It should help spread the word of the shorter format of the game far and wide and could even overtake the 15-man format of the game in some developing countries.

7s Rugby is easier to get a grip of and is not so technical. Speed must be the No.1 attribute of anyone playing it and a strong defence must go with that. Break the line in 7s and it’s usually a try.

I wonder if the Jamaicans will put a side out in Rio? If Usain Bolt and their sprint relay team can learn how to tackle over the next four years, they could have a decent team.

America will certainly go for 7s as the sport grows over there and are blessed with countless incredible athletes, while countries like India and Afghanistan are mad for it.

I can’t say enough about 7s having been lucky enough to represent my country in the Commonwealth Games and been to play in the Hong Kong 7s too.

It is exciting and fast to play in and it attracts huge audiences that tend to be much younger than your regular 15-a-side viewer. There is a real party atmosphere and Hong Kong was like nothing I had ever experienced in my life.

In the next four years I think it will come to be regarded as a sport in its own right. It is becoming almost impossible to switch between 7s and 15s like you could when I played and is now a specialist sport at the top level. The 15-a-side is more physical while speed is of the essence in 7s and you don’t need to be able to take huge contact.

I am really looking forward to seeing how things develop between now and Rio.

Fiji already aiming for Rio gold in 7s Rugby.

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