I’ve never really been in to rugby. Lots of rules and lots of dudes; it just never felt very approachable. When I was living in Dubai I went along with some friends to the Rugby Sevens, as I’d been told that Sevens is a more approachable game, in that it is more about drinking than watching rugby. They were right, and I think I spent approximately 3 minutes of that entire afternoon actually paying any attention to the game. So, when HSBC Sport got in touch and asked if I’d like to check out the London leg of the Sevens tour, it seemed like a good opportunity to try and get to grips with the game properly.
I took along my friend Laura who does know about rugby, and she guided me through the first couple of games we watched until I got to grips with the rules. And you know what? I got so in to it.
Sevens is pretty straight forward and it’s actually really exciting to watch. It’s played on a full sized pitch but with only seven players per team instead of fifteen, so there’s a lot of space to play. I think it’s also a less technical game, so there’s less time spent stopped faffing about with the rules. As a result, it’s very end to end and there are lots of tries and tackles. The best bit is definitely the tackles; sometimes they really smash each other to bits and it is very entertaining. At one point, one of the players got knocked out cold and their team mates just carried on playing. It was unbelievable.
Also, while I hate to sound like a typical girl, there’s a ridiculous amount of babes there. Both playing and spectating. It is babe central. This definitely added to the all round enjoyment of the day.
Laura and I having fun in the photobooth
As well as there now being ten tournaments in the World Rugby Seven Series, Sevens has actually been included in the line up of Olympics sports for the first time this year in Rio, which means it should reach an even wider audience than before. As sponsors of the world series, HSBC have produced a report entitled The Future of Rugby which looks at how the men’s and women’s games are set to grow.
Amazingly, the report says that women’s rugby is the fastest growing sport in the world; there have been around 500,000 new players coming to the sport every year. If growth continues along those lines then, in a decade’s time, it’s estimated that 40% of all rugby players worldwide will be female. That is awesome! There are currently five tournaments in the women’s world series, so hopefully that will grow in the next ten years too.
As an added bonus, HSBC arranged for us to meet and interview rugby legends Brian O’Driscoll and George Gregan who were amazing guys. We spoke to them about the future of rugby, the accessibility of Sevens and the growth of the women’s game. They were really enthusiastic about the women’s game and hope that its inclusion in the Olympics will encourage girls to get in to the sport. They also said that they would encourage everyone to try rugby, and recommended trying tag rugby as a starting point (it looks like you can find tag rugby clubs here, if you’re interested!). They also agreed to hit the photobooth with us, which was very fun.
A big thank you to HSBC Sport for having us for the day; I’ll definitely be heading back to the Sevens for more rugby fun!