Rugby sevens has received a surge in popularity in recent times, with the most recent World Series accumulating over 4,500 hours of airtime across 149 territories, which undoubtedly has been due to the inclusion of the game in Rio 2016. The World Cup Sevens received mass appreciation in Moscow last year that led to much demand for inclusion in the past few weeks’ tender applications for the World Cup 2018 tournament. The rugby community (#RugbyUnited) is highly enthused by the prospect of mass participation of sevens worldwide.
Sam Edgerley, of the England 7s team, spoke of how sevens differentiates itself from the more widely-followed 15-a-side game: “The difference between 7s and 15s, to state the obvious, is that there are seven men on the pitch as opposed to fifteen…
“As a result there is a lot more space for players to expose in attack, and conversely the defenders have to be on the money with their one on one tackles. A missed tackle often means a try!
“It is played in 14 minute games within six game tournaments, usually split between two days. Due to the brevity of the games, the intensity and the speed of play is very high and so the players’ have to work hard on their physical conditioning.
“You can guarantee if you watch 7s you will witness some great running rugby, filled with sidesteps, tries, covering tackles and players leaving everything they have on the pitch.“
Tomorrow kicks off the start of the USA Sevens, more commonly known as Las Vegas 7s, the largest annual rugby competition in North America, drawing over 60,000 fans. It will feature 16 teams representing countries from every continent, including the hosts, the US Eagles, that boast the fastest rugby player of current times, Carlin Isles (a man we have analysed on this site before).
The USA Sevens is the fifth of nine tournaments on the IRB Sevens World Series, and two players that could have a big impact for their respective teams at the Sam Boyd Stadium are Zack Test and Tom Mitchell. Zack Test, from the USA Eagles, averages two tries per tournament overall in his career, and the former Gridiron wide receiver steps it up a notch on home soil to take that average up to three, having scored 12 tries in his last four USA Sevens appearances.
Tom Mitchell, England Sevens’ new captain, has come into his own this season. Having suffered an injury at the beginning of last season, it has taken a while for the Oxford graduate to come back to his best, but with a full pre-season under his belt he is making himself indispensable to coach Simon Amor, who himself is beginning to leave his imprint on this England side.
By Emma Vetriano (@EmmaVetriano)
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images