Friday, October 09, 2009

Welsh welcome the Olympic's Rugby Sevens

The Welsh Rugby Union has welcomed today's decision to introduce Rugby Sevens into the Olympic Games from 2016 as a major boost for sport in Wales.The International Olympic Committee today met in Copenhagen and voted overwhelmingly in favour of including Sevens at the Rio De Janeiro games.It means that Wales' top men and women Rugby Sevens players will now be able to compete for places in UK squads which compete to bring the gold medals back to Britain.The WRU's Head of Rugby Performance and Development, Joe Lydon, said: "This is an important day in Welsh rugby history and certainly delivers a major boost to our Rugby Sevens ambitions."We are currently the world champions and this will ensure our players can focus on achieving on that new prize of an Olympic medal."The exposure Rugby Sevens will get from inclusion in the Olympics will draw many new people into the sport and that has clear benefits for the whole of Welsh rugby."We have an excellent international pathway structure in place here in Wales and now there is this new prize to compete for."A lot of people from Wales have striven particularly hard for this day, but I would like to single out the late Colin Hillman who worked tirelessly for Sevens rugby and would have been delighted at the decision taken today."The WRU Group Chief Executive, Roger Lewis, said: "This is an historic day for world rugby and the game here in Wales."We have already decided to focus hard on the Sevens game because it is such an key component of our elite structures."We are the world champions and within our new Participation Agreement with the four Regions Sevens Rugby is recognised as a priority for our best young players."In Wales we have the talent to compete with the best at Sevens and the lure of involvement in the 2016 Rio games will focus many of our youngsters on achieving the Olympic dream through rugby."The WRU Chairman, David Pickering, added:"The decision to include Rugby Sevens in the Olympics will help grow our game around the world."As more nations take up the rugby with serious ambition it will clearly benefit nations like Wales where the game is our national sport."Sevens is a fast and exciting sport which newcomers will quickly be able to appreciate and that appeal will draw more support into the fifteen a side game as well."Wales head coach Warren Gatland, added: "Rugby will remember this day as the moment the development of the sport took a great leap forward on the World stage."Rugby has a proud tradition and many important competitions are contested around the globe in an already thriving sporting calendar, but the Olympic games is the biggest sporting event on the planet and will represent another level for the Sevens game."A new breed of supporters and future players will be able to sample the delights of rugby union and the development of the game will be boosted in the American, African, Asian, Oceanic markets, as well as the more traditional heartlands, ensuring that our sport continues to grow from strength to strength. "The rugby world is not just excited by the prospect of competing in the Olympics, but also by the prospect of seeing what kind of impact a Great Britain rugby team intent on Olympic gold can make on the biggest stage of them all." Paul John, coach of the world champions Wales, now expects a huge impetus to hit the sport."The Americas, Chinas and Russias of the world will now see that it is an Olympic sport which will give the sport a huge boost," he said before adding the 2016 Olympics in Rio offers Welsh players the chance of reaching the pinnacle of their careers."This year there has been a huge investment in sevens since winning the World Cup. The Welsh Rugby Union realise the importance of getting a core of players within Wales taking part throughout the season, which means in six years time they could have the possibility of becoming British Lions, which is a huge incentive."John believes Sevens got the nod ahead of the other sports after the Olympic committee witnessed Wales winning the World Cup in Dubai earlier this year."The Olympic committee came over to Dubai and saw both the men's and women's competitions. If you look at the quarter-finals on, you had teams from Great Britain, Fiji, Argentina and so on - teams from virtually all of the continents were there. All sides are capable of beating each other and the sport is tremendously popular overseas. Whether it is in Adelaide, Wellington or Dubai, the support is phenomenal. Kenya have a huge travelling support second to none and the sport is just growing and growing. So the Olympic committee must have been impressed with what they saw on and off the pitch."

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