The last weekend of September (23rd, 24th & 25th) sees the Rugby 7s circus roll into town – courtesy of the Safari Sevens.
Organisers are promising a weekend not just of rugby but of entertainment and fun too – with spectators encouraged to come out in numbers and express themselves.
The sense of fun is perfectly appropriate as the short version of the game was invented as a crowd pleaser – to raise funds for Melrose RFC in Scotland… here’s Seven Facts About Rugby Sevens.
The game has its origins in Scotland, in the Borders, 1883, when a local butcher and keen Rugby Union player Ned Haig proposed a short version of the full game as a fundraising idea for his local club, Melrose RFC.
The first tournament took place on April 28, 1883 at Greenyards, Melrose. Eight teams competed with Melrose beating Gala in the final.
Matches last just 15 minutes – two halves of seven minutes plus a minute break – played on a full sized rugby pitch. Teams have three forwards and four backs plus five replacements. Draws aren’t allowed with extra time played to settle ties.
Sevens went international in 1973 with a tournament at Murrayfield to celebrate the SRU’s centenary. This was followed by the inauguration of the Hong Kong Sevens in 1976 which remains one of the sport’s most prestigious tournaments.
The Hong Kong event is now part of the World Rugby Sevens Series. .
The Rugby World Cup Sevens was first held in Scotland in 1993 when England were victorious.
Fiji and current champions New Zealand have both won the tournament twice. A women’s tournament was inaugurated in 2009.
Rugby Sevens featured at the Olympics for the first time in 2016 with 12 teams each competing for the gold in the men’s and women’s categories. Fiji claimed the men’s gold medal with Australia winning the women’s gold .And of course the sport will be a feature of the Commonwealth Games here later this summer, with 16 top rugby nations competing for the medals.