Olympic Rugby: Lucky number Seven

Whether you’re a rugby fan or not, you’ll know about the London Sevens – a day of excitement, atmosphere and fast-paced rugby. But what exactly is Sevens Rugby?

Fiji fans go wild during the cup quarter final match between France and Fiji during the HSBC London Sevens at Twickenham Stadium on May 22, 2016 in London, United Kingdom

Put simply, it’s a variant of rugby union, where 15 players play 40-minute halves. In Sevens, teams are made of seven players playing seven-minute halves. Played on the same pitch as a Rugby Union game, Sevens requires bravery, skill and an incredible amount of speed.


The rules of Sevens differ slightly to that of a normal game of rugby:

  • 7 players per team on field (instead of 15)
  • Five substitutes, with five interchanges (instead of 7 and 7)
  • Three player scrums (instead of eight players)
  • Seven-minute halves, though ten-minute halves are allowed in the final of a competition (instead of 40-minute halves, in fifteen-a-side)
  • Maximum of two minutes half-time (instead of fifteen minutes)
  • Matches drawn after regulation are continued into sudden-death extra time, in multiple 5-minute periods
  • All conversion attempts must be drop-kicked (instead of having the option to place-kick)
  • Conversions must be taken within 30 seconds of scoring a try (instead of 60 seconds). Prior to 2016, the limit had been 40 seconds
  • Kick-offs: in sevens, the team which has just scored kicks off, rather than the conceding team, as in fifteen-a-side
  • Yellow cards net a 2-minute suspension (instead of 10 minutes) to the offender and a power play is awarded to the opposing team


Rugby Sevens was created by two butchers, Ned Haig and David SandersonThe game originated in Melrose, Scotland in the 1880s. Created by two butchers, Ned Haig and David Sanderson, as a fund-raising event for their local club, the first game was a huge success. So much so that Tynedale became the first non-Scottish club to win the Borders Sevens titles two years later.

Despite its popularity, Sevens did not expand further till the 1920s, when the Percy Park Sevens was held at North Shields and Buenos Aires Football Club hosted a Sevens tournament in Argentina. England’s first major Sevens tournament, the Middlesex Sevens, was set up in 1926.

The 1976 Hong Kong Sevens Club

The 1976 Hong Kong Sevens Club

Fast forward a few more years and the first officially sanctioned tournament for national teams was the 1973 International Seven-A-Side Tournament held at Murrayfield as part of the “Scottish Rugby Union’s Celebration of Rugby”. And, three years later, the Hong Kong Sevens was launched and became the first Rugby tournament to attract major sponsorship.

And this year, for the first time ever, Sevens Rugby will be included on the program for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. To say we’re excited is an understatement!



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