An overwhelming vote in favour of rugby sevens has seen the sport admitted to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The International Olympic Committee announced the admission of rugby sevens and golf on Friday. Golf returns after 112 years, while rugby was last played at the Olympics in 1924 in its 15-a-side form.
IOC Members voted 63-27 for golf, and 81-8 in favour of rugby. IRB president Bernard Lapasset said this was an important moment in rugby’s history.
‘The Olympic Games will be the pinnacle of the sport for all our athletes and the rugby family. The best men’s and women’s players in the world are excited to be able to showcase their talent on the world’s greatest sporting stage.
‘We are now looking forward to working in partnership with the IOC to develop and implement a rugby sevens tournament in Rio that will reach out to new audiences and inspire a new generation of sports fans around the world,’ said Lapasset.
Paul Treu, whose Springbok Sevens outfit captured the series title earlier this year, said this decision will change the face of the code forever.
‘I have been waiting for this for a long time and have got plenty of plans, some that I have already started on. Obviously we’ll need buy-in from the national sports departments but I’m confident of that.
‘Governments are now going to be pumping in so much money into the sport in order to get gold, so you are going to get that many more countries starting to play sevens.
‘In fact I was talking to one of the US Sevens management guys just yesterday and he was a bit disillusioned about lack of funds and plans etc, and I told him to just wait until the announcement, things will take off then.’
Treu added that he expects the USA to become a bigger force in the build up to rugby’s Olympic return in 2016.
‘The US has a vast pool of talent. There are NFL guys out there who just can’t make the cut, but they run close to sub 10-seconds for the 100 metres. Imagine [the possibilities] once you harness that talent.’