Don’t tell my daughter but I was stuck attending her school’s annual PTA elections (on a Friday night nogal!) when the news about Sevens’ inclusion in the Olympic Games came through on my FaceBook Wall. The boys at Olympic-rugby.org were first with the breaking news.
After that, news about the IOC decision was all that dominated my Inbox! (I should really add some more non-rugby players and supporters to my FaceBook Friends-list. Not!)
One of the benefits of the Sevens Series being a world-wide series , is that I now have contacts in all eight World Series cities. As such, congratulatory messages from Dubai, Ozzie, New Zealand, etc. start flooding in. I’m finally on the SARU mailing list and the guardians of the game in South Africa weren’t left behind and I soon had their message of congratulations in my Inbox:
Oregan Hoskins, the President of the South African Rugby Union, said,
“This is a tremendous step forward for Rugby Union and one of the biggest days in the history of the Game. In terms of growing the game across the globe and attracting more players, Rugby’s inclusion into the Olympic Games cannot be underestimated.”
“On behalf of SARU, we’d like to thank everyone, especially the IRB and Bernard Lapasset in particular, who has worked tirelessly to get Rugby back into the Olympics. Be assured that our Springbok Sevens team will be geared when the day comes in 2016 in Rio when they too will have the opportunity to push for Olympic gold.”
The President was followed by the legendary BlitzBok player and current coach Paul Treu who added:
“This is a wonderful occasion for Rugby and its future across the globe. Just think, in a few years’ time our top rugby players will share the same stage as world-class athletes like Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps and Yelena Isinbaeva,”
“This would also mean greater support for rugby unions from their governments and national Olympic organisations, which will see the game grow even more.
“More countries will become competitive on the international stage – something we’ve already experienced in the IRB Series with teams like Kenya, Portugal and the USA doing very well. It would increase the footprint of the game.”
“The game will attract more players and especially the so-called smaller teams will have more resources from which to pick their sides.”
The Springbok Sevens coach, who has dedicated much of his playing career to the faster, more exciting form of the game, in the process helping to transform the SA-side from a group of part-timers to a fully-contracted, professional World Championship Team added:
“Sportsmen and women will have the option of pursuing Sevens as a viable rugby career option outside of the traditional 15-man code. Apart from the IRB World Sevens Series, the Sevens World Cup and the Commonwealth Games, they now have the additional carrot of going for Olympic gold.”
And what a carrot it is, Coach. One of the BlitzBokke on my FB friends-list wondered aloud whether he’ll “still be around” in the game come Rio 2016. I think many of the curent squad will be sharing this very thought, because as an ex-student of mine, Olympic sprinter Geraldine Pillay once said: “Nothing comes bigger than the Olympics!”
So, to all of the folks who worked tirelessly for the Sevens cause here in cyberspace, as well as those of you who gave your support to initiatives like olympic-rugby.org:
Cheers and see you in Rio!
Samba De Janeiro!