HSBC Rugby legends Jason Robinson, George Gregan and IRB Hall of Fame inductee Gordon Tietjens agree that the success of the London 2012 Olympics has pushed even greater focus on the sport of International Rugby Sevens.
Speaking ahead of the start of the 2012/13 HSBC Sevens World Series that begins this weekend with Australia’s Gold Coast Sevens, the Englishman, Australian and New Zealander are all excited about the positive impact that the inclusion of Rugby Sevens in the next Olympic Games will have on the sport. Jason Robinson, an ambassador for World Series sponsor HSBC, commented: "Rugby Sevens will keep the momentum up from the London 2012 Olympics. The start of the HSBC Sevens World Series and Rugby Sevens’ inclusion now in the Olympics will make it even more exciting to watch. Sevens is the raw form of Rugby. Players learn how to use the space around them and that in turn allows them to express themselves. Players with good feet and ball in hand who attack the open spaces really shine - that gets the crowd going."
George Gregan who is attending round one of the Series in Australia to witness the action first hand added: "I always look forward to the start of the HSBC Sevens World Series, I’ll be down at the Gold Coast this weekend. I remember playing Sevens myself in Hong Kong at the start of my career and it’s a really exciting and fast sport with plenty of skill on display. Its top quality Rugby and spread over two days per tournament so everyone can come and take a look.
"The 2012 Olympics was brilliant, hats off to all the organisers of the event. With Rugby now in the Olympics it will be great for players to play for Olympic medals in four years’ time. Rio will be the perfect setting for Sevens inclusion in the Games, the carnival atmosphere will really suit the flavour of Sevens" Gregan added.
With Rio 2016 on the horizon, a new promotion and relegation system was announced by the International Rugby Board (IRB) this season enabling more nations the chance to try and gain core team status on the World Series. All Blacks Sevens coach and HSBC ambassador Gordon Tietjens commented: "It gives all the nations competing internationally at Sevens the focus and opportunity to try and get into the HSBC Sevens World Series. Sevens is now an Olympic sport so it’s great that everyone has the opportunity to play at the highest level. I was there in Hong Kong last year when Spain, Portugal and Canada were promoted and qualified for the Series this year. It was fantastic to see the pleasure and passion on the faces of those players when they qualified.
"In Sevens there really isn’t an easy game, anybody can beat you on their day. The fifteen-a-side game is pretty consistent in terms of the bigger teams, but the new promotion and relegation system in the Sevens World Series really suits the emerging nations playing Rugby."
In recent years interest in the IRB’s premier International Rugby Sevens competition has continued to grow. In the 2011/12 season 547,000 fans attended tournaments in the Series, which connects both established Rugby playing nations and those less established. The HSBC Sevens World Series sees teams competing at nine Sevens tournaments around the World between October and May each year. "Consistency and performance are what it takes to win the Series. You have to be there or thereabouts at every tournament you go to. Last Series we won three of nine tournaments and Fiji won three of nine tournaments as well, but because we were more consistent and reached more semi-finals throughout the Series we won the Series last season. You just can’t afford to have a bad tournament" Gordon Tietjens commented.
Australia’s most capped player, George Gregan believes excellent fitness plays a major part in a team’s chances in the Series, "incredible consistency and great conditioning alongside a bit of luck with injuries is what it takes to win the Series. History tells us that those teams who make the semi-final in tournaments more often than not go on to do well in the Series. Conditioning is important because it’s very tough playing back-to-back tournaments. Injury management is also important as everyone is bound to get niggles during a very long Season."
Rugby World Cup Winner Jason Robinson added, "Consistency is crucial. If you’re not on form you will get beaten. There are no three all draws in the HSBC Sevens World Series and the players on the circuit are some of the fittest athletes around. They are all sprinters these days and with the unpredictability of the Series, never knowing who you’ll be playing from tournament to tournament, you have to always be on your A game."
The HSBC Sevens World Series begins this weekend at the Gold Coast Sevens, round one of the Series. For more information visit www.irbsevens.com
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