The Rugby Sevens tournament is currently in full swing, with the sixth leg of the series set to take place in Hong Kong later this month. But, if you're a rugby fan, do you prefer to watch Rugby Sevens or Rugby Union? We take a look below at the reasons why Rugby Sevens has become so popular.
What is rugby sevens?
Rugby Sevens, also known as seven-a-side rugby is a variant of rugby union, but teams are inevitably made up of just seven players instead of the usual fifteen. There are just 3 forwards and 4 backs, so the game is much more open with a lot more running involved. Unlike Rugby Union, which offers a more developed game with more big hits and bruises, sevens has more breaks and wide passing which a lot of spectators believe makes the game more exciting.
"The modern Rugby Sevens athlete possesses a very different level of fitness to Rugby Union players."
The gap is increasing
Over the years, there has developed an increasing gap between Rugby Sevens and the traditional fifteen-a-side, Rugby Union game, and players have had to make a choice regarding which game to concentrate on. The techniques and training have become very different, and even the weight and fitness requirements for the two different styles of rugby are now different. In Rugby Union, the forwards need bulky physiques whereas in sevens this is not required. New training regimes have been devised to accommodate the leaner physique of Rugby Sevens, meaning players are less transferable.
The Olympic Games 2016
With the admission of Rugby Sevens to the 2016 Olympic Games, the games are now widely recognised across the globe as being undeniably separate. The fan base for both sevens and fifteens has changed and split. The advantage of the Rugby Union game is that is has the potential to hold the attention span of fans for a longer amount of time, but observers are struggling with the declining state of the scrum which has become an act of endurance for many rugby fans over the years, whilst rugby sevens is becoming even more exciting to watch, with very few scrums to prevent a pause in the action.
Try-scoring & Game Structure
Modern Rugby Union defences has reduced the amount of try-scoring that occurs on the pitch between similarly ranked teams, and let,s face it, a lack of scoring will inevitably create a less exciting game for fans. In a Rugby Sevens tournament, tries tend to be scored a lot more frequently, meaning tonnes more excitement for the fans. Furthermore, in Rugby Sevens there is more opportunity for every team to play against a more even level of competition, and maybe even finally achieve a victory thanks to the structure of tournaments.
"Global awareness of Rugby Sevens has increased with it's inclusion in the 2016 Olympic Games."
Arrival of the modern athlete
The modern Rugby Sevens athlete possesses a very different level of fitness to Rugby Union players. The fitness of a Rugby Sevens player not only incorporates stamina and the agility of an NFL running back, players also need to possess the qualities of professional sprinters and wrestlers. For example, the U.S.A's Carlin Isles who possesses a 100m time that would have placed him in the semi-finals of the London Olympic Games. To watch athletes of this calibre perform on the Rugby Sevens pitch can only make for a thrilling game.
Competition remains a challenge
The gap between the first and second-tier nations in Rugby Union remains big despite the IRB's best efforts to reduce it. In the world of international Sevens, providing seven speedy athletes are produced for every game, both teams have an equal opportunity to clinch the final title. Specific rugby training is still required, but if the athletes are strong all-rounders the results will inevitably shine through. The inclusion of Rugby Sevens in the Rio de Janerio Olympic Games 2016 will create further exposure across the world for a rugby game that is swiftly becoming the one to watch.
Which do you prefer Rugby Sevens or Rugby Union? We'd love to hear you views.