RugbyX is a new form of Rugby designed to make the sport more accessible for children and encourage adoption of Rugby at grassroots levels.
When I first heard of the concept, my reaction was along the lines of ‘Another Rugby format? Just what we need’ – but after some discussion with the team behind RugbyX, I’ve been persuaded that this could provide a real boost for the sport by getting more people to play.
London’s O2 Arena will play host to the world’s first RugbyX tournament this October, which will see international Sevens teams competing in a single day tournament.
The competition will be played under existing Rugby Union laws in respect of foul play and breakdown penalties but will include some law-trial adaptations in order to encourage simple and fast gameplay.
The game is played indoors, on a smaller pitch with fewer players and a reduced number of set pieces. Kick offs, conversions, competitive scrums and line outs have been removed in order to increase ball-in-play time.
Whereas Sevens is played on a full-sized pitch with traditional 15-a-side laws adapted, RugbyX is played on a smaller pitch with only five players per team and with adjusted laws for a fast-paced, technical game. The intention is to make it simple for schools and grassroots clubs to pick up the ball and play on whatever space is available.
The teams taking part in the inaugural tournament on Tuesday 29 October have been drawn from the leading international Sevens nations competing in HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. In the Men’s tournament hosts England have been drawn with Ireland and the Barbarians in Group A. France, USA and Argentina comprise Group B. The Women’s competition features England vs France in Semi Final 1 and USA vs Ireland in Semi Final 2.
The Group stages and Women’s Semi Finals will take place during the 4pm-6pm afternoon session, with the 8.30pm-10.30pm evening session featuring Men’s Quarter-Finals and Semi-Finals, the Women’s 3rd/4th place match, and Men’s and Women’s Grand Finals.
Here’s the preview video:
Fans can expect to see the likes of England’s Dan Norton, Olympic silver medalist and all-time leading try scorer in sevens, and England women’s captain Abbie Brown, along with France’s charismatic captain Terry Bouhraoua and the USA’s double world player of the year Perry Baker take part in the debut competition.
World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper said: “The sanctioning of RugbyX marks an exciting step on World Rugby’s journey towards making the sport more accessible, providing an important entry point for new audiences to experience the joy, speed and skill of rugby in an indoor arena environment.
“Innovation is crucial to the continuing success of any sport and RugbyX presents a great opportunity to capitalise on increasing global interest in the days immediately preceding the Rugby World Cup final in Japan.”
TRM, a leading commercial rights agency, has led development the concept in conjunction with Ben Ryan. Harry Horsley, Co-Founder and CEO of TRM said: “We are proud to have invested in developing RugbyX which we believe will bring rugby to new audiences in the spectacular surroundings of the world’s leading entertainment destination. In due course we hope RugbyX can become a platform to promote grass roots adoption of 5 vs 5 rugby in the UK and globally.”
The long-term aim for RugbyX is to improve accessibility to the game at a grassroots level. The new format requires a smaller space to play and there are fewer technicalities around set pieces making it easier for people to understand and take part in.
For more information, please visit RugbyX.com