- Year on from Team GB Olympic success
- Sevens' growth has been exponential
- Secure Trading 24/Sevens national finals
One year on from rugby sevens making its Olympic debut at the Rio Games, we speak to some of the people who were involved, and find out what impact the sport’s inclusion on the biggest stage has had since.
Men’s and women’s sevens players from England, Scotland and Wales came together under the banner of Team GB in 2016, as the sport returned to the Olympics.
The men’s side claimed silver while their female counterparts lost out in the bronze medal match, finishing fourth, but both squads contributed equally to one of the stand out spectacles of Rio 2016.
Those involved, whether referee, coach, player or pundit all have different memories of the event, but all agree on one thing: rugby sevens continues to grow exponentially.
Ruaridh McConnochie – Olympic silver medallist
“Being selected for Great Britain was such a big occasion. We all had allocated slots where we walked into a room and chatted to the coaches - that’s where they told you if you were in or not and why.
“I was absolutely over the moon to be going, it was a weird feeling travelling as the reserve, but incredible nonetheless; I never thought I’d get a chance to go to an Olympic Games, let alone have a chance to compete at one. "When I look back on it, it’s been a pretty great year..."
“It was everything I expected it to be and more. The first lift I got into in the Olympic village had Andy Murray, Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish in it - I was a bit star-struck.
“As a result of the Olympics, the standard on the world series has improved and will keep on doing so until the next Olympics. The USA are getting better, there’s talk of Germany going full-time, and Ireland are making waves in Europe. I think it is great for the sport.
“For England to come second in the world series behind a great South Africa side was fantastic and a testament to the programme. When I look back on it, it’s been a pretty great year and hopefully we can kick on again next season.”
Heather Fisher – Member of Team GB Women at Rio
“Rugby sevens at the Olympics put the sport on the map; since Rio, it has garnered more attention and players are being recognised as athletes, which is great.
“Stateside, they’re looking to organise professional sevens leagues, Japan are trying to set-up professional teams and people in nations all over the world are getting behind the game – it’s growing.
“My dream was always to be part of an Olympic Games, and to be able to make one was really special. “Rio was a really huge platform for sevens and it’ll just get bigger.”
“The sport is in a positive place. A lot of people watched the Olympics and audiences have started to recognise women as rugby players as a result.
“There is an increased interest in the world series and more people are coming to watch because the standard has gone up another level.
“In terms of England Women, it has been a development year for us. Our world series results probably haven’t reflected the full capabilities of our squad but in time squad members will grow into fantastic players.
“Rio was a really huge platform for sevens and it’ll just get bigger.”
Sara Cox – Referee at Rio Olympics
"The Olympics was a huge event, it was a massive privilege to be there, and a significant moment in my career; whatever I achieve - if can inspire the next generation of officials I’m onto a winner.
"Rio had a massive impact on the sport; there is more of a buzz around sevens now and a better understanding of it. It’s attracting new audiences all the time because of the nature of it. The Olympics is responsible for that. "If can inspire the next generation of officials I’m onto a winner."
"The game is going to continue to grow, I think the standard of the game is increasing as is the interest in it. It’s going to get better and better, and for the sport as well as the athletes, officials and younger generation, that is huge.
"I’d love to be at the next Olympics in Tokyo, I’m officiating in sevens rugby as well as 15s so we will see where my career takes me."
Simon Amor – Silver medal winning head coach
"One of the great things about the Olympics was that the focus was all on the players, and it was about them becoming superstars both on and off the pitch.
"In terms of performance, the part of the game that has grown most since the Olympics is the women’s game. You only have to look at the world series this year and the standard of women’s rugby has significantly improved - the skill level, the pace and the physicality is just brilliant to watch.
"The Olympics is the pinnacle for all sports, so to be in that environment is critical for growing the game of sevens. "The Olympic experience was amazing and it has inspired a new generation."
"Speaking from my experience of the men’s game since its inclusion at Rio, it’s the change in atmosphere that I notice the most; you can really feel the sense of excitement. The spectators love watching world-class rugby.
"The Olympic experience was amazing and it has inspired a new generation.
"It was incredible to see elite level athletes watching the games - the sprinters appreciating the speed of our game, the wrestlers watching the grappling and the basketball players admiring the aerial skills involved. There were just so many connections with so many sports, and they were fascinated by it.
"Sevens is on a natural upward trajectory, and now it’s an Olympic sport we have seen funding from Olympic committees increase, because they see sevens as a viable medal.
"The excitement is where the game will go to next, and the amount of tournaments that are being established is just a testament to how popular the sport now is."
Rob Vickerman – Former England Sevens player now pundit
"Before it began, I knew rugby sevens was going to be one of the massive successes of the Olympics.
"The format was perfect, three days for the women and three days for the men. I knew the teams were better prepared than ever before and the player depth was stronger, so for me, it was a real excitement and for others it was intrigue. "Excitement around the sport is still there..."
"There is another level coming in under the world series now, and people are recognising there are things to be gained from hosting events - not necessarily with the same structure of the world series - things like the Oktoberfest Sevens.
"The strength of the game has increased and wider outreach throughout the population has shot through the roof, but I feel like not a lot has changed, people still talk about sevens with an interesting prefix - 'what could happen if', and I think we're still waiting for 'it' to happen.
"That being said, excitement around the sport is still there, and I think there is going to be a whole lot more. There is talk of Silicon Valley hosting a tournament, and China have put some monstrous investment into the game, which is going to change sevens."