File:Rugby Sevens Melbourne 2006.jpg

Rugby sevens is a variant of rugby union in which only seven players per side feature, instead of the full 15. The version of rugby union is very popular, with notable competitions including the IRB Sevens World Series and the Rugby World Cup Sevens. Rugby sevens is also played at events such as the Commonwealth Games. Although it was conceived as an event for rugby union, rugby league has also adopted the sevens format.


Rugby sevens is sanctioned by the International Rugby Board (IRB), and is played under substantially the same rules and on a field of the same dimensions as the 15-player game. While a normal rugby union match lasts upwards of 80 minutes, a normal rugby sevens match lasts approximately 15 minutes (allowing for the one-minute halftime break, injury time and so forth). Competition finals last somewhat more than 20 minutes; each half in a competition final is ten minutes instead of the normal seven minutes, and the halftime break can be two minutes. (In the IRB Sevens World Series, only the Cup final, which determines the overall winner of an event, is played with 10-minute halves; all finals for lower-level trophies are played with normal 7-minute halves.[1]) This allows rugby tournaments to be completed in a day or a weekend. However, sevens scores are generally comparable to union scores; scoring occurs with much greater regularity in sevens, since the defenders are more spaced out than in rugby union. Scrums still exist within sevens, composed of just three players from each team. Given the speedy nature of the game, players are usually either from the backline or the trio of loose forwards in fifteens rugby.

Rugby sevens was initially conceived by Ned Haig, a butcher from Melrose, Scotland as a fundraising event for his local club in 1883. The first ever sevens match was played at the Greenyards, where it was well received. The largest sevens tournament in the world is the Rosslyn Park Schools tournament, with an attendance of over 3,000 schoolchildren from around the world. Rugby Sevens specialists Wellington College have dominated the rugby sevens festival winning 6 times out of the last 9 years with a five year unbeaten spell between 1998-2003. Results from the tournament can be seen on The Schools' Rugby Website. The first ever officially sanctioned international tournament occurred at Murrayfield as part of the "Scottish Rugby Union's celebration of rugby" centenary celebrations in 1973. Due to the success of the format, the ongoing Hong Kong Sevens was launched three years later. In 1993, the Rugby World Cup Sevens, in which the Melrose Cup is contested, was launched. Two of the best known sevens competitions are the Hong Kong Sevens and Dubai Sevens, which now make up parts of the IRB Sevens World Series.

Variations to the Laws of the GameEdit

The emphasis of play in Sevens is speed, skill, and fitness. A team is usually comprised entirely of backs, because of their fitness and agility compared to their forward counterparts. Furthermore, players may need to get more creative in making plays, with only 14-20 minutes to play a single game.

There are several variations in laws which apply to Rugby Sevens,[2] primarily to speed up the game and to account for the reduced number of players. The main changes can be summarised as follows:

  • 7 players per team on field (instead of 15).
  • 5 reserves, with only 3 interchanges (instead of 7 and 7).
  • 7-minute halves, 10-minute halves in championships (instead of 40-minute halves).
  • 1-minute halftime, 2 minutes in championships (instead of 10 minutes).
  • Matches drawn after regulation are continued into Sudden Death Extra Time, in 5-minute periods.
  • Conversion attempts must be drop-kicked (instead of having the option to place-kick).
  • Conversions must be taken within 40 seconds of scoring a try (instead of 60 seconds).
  • 3-man scrums (instead of 8).
  • The scoring team kicks off (instead of the non-scoring team).
  • Yellow cards net a 2-minute suspension (instead of 10 minutes).
    • Suspensions are more severe in Sevens than in Fifteens. The team plays a man down for 1/7th of the match instead of 1/8th, and losing 1 man out of 7 opens up many more holes than 1 man out of 15.
  • Referees decide on advantage quickly (where one play usually ends advantage, not true in fifteens).
  • There are additional officials present (in-goal touch judges) to judge success of kicks at goals and hence the game is not delayed waiting for touch judges to move into position to judge conversion attempts.

At the Summer OlympicsEdit

Template:Catmore1 Owing to the speed by which matches are resolved and the minimal personnel requirements, there is hope that sevens will be accepted for Olympic competition (it has been in the Commonwealth Games since 1998). The IRB pointed towards sellout crowds at Commonwealth Games and World Cup sevens as proof of the sport's popularity. In addition, it would provide a competition in which sporting minnows from regions such as the Pacific, who are able to field competitive rugby teams, could genuinely contend for medals.[3] However, the International Olympic Committee turned down the bid for the purposes of the 2012 Olympics to be held in London. One IOC official from Switzerland, Dennis Oswald, dismissed the bid declaring: “When it comes to rugby, I am not a specialist, but people within the sport tell me that rugby sevens is something of a joke.” Oswald later confirmed that he had never in fact watched a game of sevens, or indeed, fifteens rugby. Although disappointed, the IRB responded by pointing out that in terms of the Olympic motto: Citius, Altius, Fortius (faster, higher, stronger), a rugby player was more likely to possess all of these attributes than competitors within other debatable Olympic events, such as rhythmic gymnastics. The IRB has recently moved to counter criticisms that it only proposed for a male Olympic tournament, establishing a series of Sevens events for women; the 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens will include a women's championship for the first time.

Major tournamentsEdit

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FIRA European SevensEdit

2005 FIRA European SevensEdit

Portugal defeated Russia 28-26 in a pulsating climax to the Grand Final of the 2005 FIRA European Sevens in Moscow to retain the trophy they have won for the last three years. Spain won the Plate with a 25-14 win over Germany, whilst Lithuania claimed the Bowl. Portugal topped their group on day one, recording four victories and a 7-7 draw, against Italy. In Pool B, Russia delighted the home fans with five wins out of five, including a 33-7 victory over France. They followed that up on day two by defeating Italy 17-0 in the Cup semi finals, whilst Portugal beat France 22-7.

Notable Sevens PlayersEdit

Sevens Top Try-ScorersEdit

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Player Nationality Tries
Santiago Gomez Cora (ARG) 165
Ben Gollings (ENG) 143
Fabian Julies (RSA) 132
Mark Bennett (ENG) 128
Karl Tenana (NZL) 113
Amasio Raoma (NZL) 112
Peter Miller (AUS) 107
Richard Haughton (ENG) 106
Tafai Ioasa (NZL) 106
Dave Moonlight (CAN) 97
Rob Thirlby (ENG) 96
Marius Schoeman (RSA) 92
Nasoni Roko (FJI) 90
Vilimoni Delasau (FJI) 84
Uale Mai (SAM) 84
Justin Wilson (NZL) 77
Waisale Serevi (FJI) 76
Craig De Goldi (NZL) 75
Shane Thompson (CAN) 75
William Ryder (FJI) 74
Gaolo Elisara (SAM) 74
David Lemi (SAM) 73

Rugby league sevensEdit

Rugby league may also be played under seven-a-side rules, though this is less common as an alternative when compared with Rugby league nines (played on a nine-a-side basis). The game is substantially the same as full rugby league, however scrums involve only three players per team, and all kicks at goal must be made by drop-kicks. The major tournament was the World Sevens played prior to the start of the National Rugby League season in Sydney, but the tournament has been cancelled.

Rugby league sevens is particularly popular with pub teams — formed from the regulars at a particular public house, the reason for this is that it is often difficult for a single Pub (particularly in the north of England where rugby league is popular, as are pubs) to form a full squad of 13 players and four substitutes of willing players.

Women's Rugby sevensEdit

Women's rugby 7s is dominated by New Zealand, with either the New Zealand team (1999-2001) or Aotearoa Maori Women’s Rugby 7’s team (playing as New Zealand) [1] winning all of the Hong Kong 7s to date (as of 2007). The inaugural Women’s Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament will be held in 2009 in Dubai in conjunction with the men’s tournament. Other strong nations in Women's 7s are Australia and the USA.

Women's rugby seven's may be added to the Commonwealth Games in 2014 or 2018.


  1. 2006-07 IRB Sevens World Series Media Guide (PDF). International Rugby Board. Retrieved on February 10, 2007.
  2. Seven-a-side Variations: Standard Set of Variations Appropriate to the Seven-a-side Game (PDF). International Rugby Board. Retrieved on February 10, 2007.
  3. Illustrating this point, Fiji are the current holders of the Melrose Cup, the Sevens World Cup trophy. Also, Samoa won two legs of the 2006-07 IRB Sevens, including the prestigious Hong Kong Sevens.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

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