Rugby sevens is a stripped-down version of rugby union with just seven players on each team playing on a full sized pitch. There are four backs, three forwards and each team can have up to five replacements. With fewer bodies and extra space on the pitch, games are fast-paced, full of breakaway sprints and exciting tries.
There are two nail biting seven-minute halves and a quick one minute half-time break for players to catch their breath. Scoring is the same as the 15-man game: five points for a try, two for a conversion and three for a penalty kick or drop goal. All conversions must be taken within 40 seconds and must be taken as a drop goal rather than a place kick. The scoring team kicks off to the opposition.
If a game finishes in a draw at full time in a pool game, the draw counts. However, once the knockout stages of a tournament begins, a five minute extra time period is played with the team scoring first advancing.
Normally, there are fewer rucks, scrums and lineouts in the sevens game, resulting in a faster pace, skillful displays of agility and electrifying entertainment for fans.
With the lure of rugby sevens, every major international competition has added the sport to its list of sports. For the first time ever, rugby sevens was played at the Olympics in 2016 in Rio where Canada’s women claimed a bronze medal. Rugby sevens will also be played at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
While the spectacle of the Olympics comes every four years, rugby sevens’ main competition is the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series. The men’s series features 10 tournaments around the world, including a stop at BC Place in Vancouver, while the women’s tour features six stops with one of the legs being held on Vancouver Island. The men’s tournaments features 16 teams per event while the women have 12 teams.
In addition to the series, rugby sevens is also played at the Pan-Am Games — where Canada’s men are the two-time defending champions while the women won the inaugural tournament in 2015 — and the Commonwealth Games. Furthermore, every four years, the Rugby World Cup Sevens is held.