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Sevens is a success whatever the results

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The timing of rugby's inclusion in the Olympic Games could not have been any better. Peak TV evening audience scheduling when there is no other rugby on, it's just about the perfect script. And Sevens has made the most of its spotlight.

There was a time when Sevens played a prominent part in the programme with festivals, invitational teams and the chance for some parting silverware before hitting the beach each summer. Then there was the chance to play at Twickenham before a new campaign in the Middlesex Sevens, just before everything turned very serious.
In the professional era, the fanbase dwindled as the availability of leading players decreased and support for clubs increased, but fresh investment, a world tour and central contracts have brought Sevens back into the public arena.
Now it is an Olympic sport, and it has grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
The Tig has heard people talking about a sport about which they knew nothing before, and some new faces – home and abroad, men and women – now have a profile on the back of it.
Tournament rugby is of necessity a different kettle of fish to festival rugby, but the games have provided a superb advert for the product. Team GB men produced a classic match, maybe not the all-singing all-dancing version seen at the famous Hong Kong Sevens with its fancy dress and free-flowing libation but certainly in terms of intensity and skill. And it ended 0-0! In heart-stopping 'golden point' extra-time, Argentina missed a penalty kick and GB struck the post, only to seize the opportunity to run in a try in the next phase and secure a shot at a medal.
And so what if we didn’t win a medal in the women’s competition? It was a great adventure and, other than the financial implications at the RFU, as team captain Emily Scarratt said, if they encouraged more girls and women to give it a try, then they’ve achieved at least one target.
A friend of The Tig wondered about what countries who do not play rugby make of its inclusion in the Olympics, but in response, it is worth noting that handball, beach volleyball, water polo, wrestling and several other disciplines at the Games are far more limited globally. Is part of the ethos not to celebrate sport in all its glories and spread its appeal as an Olympic legacy?
An August Olympics has also allowed the Sevens to fill some of the gap left by the clubs’ close-season, especially with the pre-season programme about to start for Tigers this weekend.
Apparently discussions start soon on what happens next with regard to Sevens and its place at the Games. Those talks should not take long and we should already be looking forward to same again in four years’ time.
Now let the season begin.