First played in 1883, Rugby 7’s is referred to by many different names which include the Borders Game, the “Short Game” or Seven-a-side. Rugby 7’s was the brainchild of 2 butchers from Melrose who initially thought up the tournament as fund-raising event for their local Rugby Club, Melrose RFC. A tournament is still held every year in Melrose, and it is a popular game at all levels, with amateur and club tournaments held throughout the year.
Rugby 7’s is a variant of Rugby Union except each team fields 7 players instead of the usual 15 and the games are shorter consisting of 2 halves of 7 minutes and a half time break of 2 minutes. The game is one of the most well-distributed forms of Rugby and is popular across the world.
The first Rugby 7’s World Cup was held in 1993 in Scotland the home of Rugby Sevens, this tournament was won by England who beat Australia 21 – 17; unlike the full Rugby World Cup, Australia and New Zealand have never won the Rugby Sevens world cup. The winning team of the Rugby 7’s World Cup is presented with the Melrose Cup. Named after the birthplace of Rugby 7’s
Rugby 7’s is now recognised as an Olympic sport and is due to make its debut in the 2016 Olympic Games scheduled to be held in Rio de Janeiro.
The following are some variations on the laws of the game:
- There are only five substitutes, with only three interchanges instead of 7 and 7.
- Teams are only given one minute half-time, two minutes in finals instead of ten minutes.
- Matches that are drawn after regulation are continued into Extra Time, in 5-minute periods.
- All conversion attempts must be made by a drop-kick and kicks must be taken within 40 seconds of scoring a try, in major competitions, there are additional official’s present to judge success of kicks at goals and ensuring that the game is not delayed, by waiting for touch judges to move into position to judge the conversion attempts.
- There are only three players to a scrum instead of eight players.
- In Rugby 7’s, the team that scores restarts the game, unlike Rugby Union when the conceding team restarts the game
- Yellow cards net a 2-minute suspension in the Sin Bin.
- Referees decide on advantage quickly where one play usually ends advantage, not true in fifteens.
- Rugby 7’s is a much faster sport than the normal 15 a-side game which results in less handling errors in during the game.
Unlike your usual run of the mill Rugby Game this game is a lot easier to get involved in and can be a fun way to spend your time.
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Brian Johnstone plays for his local amateur rugby team and has played in several tournaments to help raise funds to purchase new Rugby Kit for the team.