Rio Sevens 'not competition' to XVs rugby

Bill Beaumont (AP)
Bill Beaumont (AP)

Rio de Janeiro - Sevens should not be seen as a competitor to the more traditional game of XVs rugby. 

That is the view of World Rugby chairperson Bill Beaumont, who was speaking in Rio de Janeiro on the eve of the 2016 Olympics where Sevens rugby will feature for the first time ever at the Games. 

Rugby was previously an Olympic sport and was last contested at Paris 1924 when the United States emerged with the gold medal. 

But times have changed, and the growth of Sevens has seen the shorter format of the sport secure a spot on the Olympic stage. 

With numbers reportedly dwindling in Super Rugby this year in terms of television figures and stadium attendance, Sevens rugby is seen by many as a way of ensuring the growth of the sport in the future in much the same way that T20 cricket is viewed in relation to Test cricket. 

But Beaumont insists that the two codes should not be seen as competition to each other. 

"I think you see the two working together," the former England captain said. 

"I think at the moment within the cricket season you have segments where you have your T20 games and five day Test matches and your 50 overs version ... so I think the two can co-exist.

"There will be players that come out of Sevens at this tournament in Rio that will be able to make the step and represent their countries at 15s. And there could well be others that play 15s that might decide to represent their countries on a Sevens World Series circuit.

"I don't see one as competition to the other, I see the opposite and that they will actually enhance the game and expand the game."

The Sevens at the Olympics gets underway on August 6 with the women's tournament while the men start on August 9. 

South Africa have a men's team that is pooled alongside Australia, Spain and France. 

Lloyd Burnard is Sport24's correspondent in Rio de Janeiro for the duration of the 2016 Olympics ...

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