Aug 16,2014(ISN) – With one day to go until Rugby Sevens makes its Youth Olympic Games debut, International Rugby Board President Bernard Lapasset is anticipating a thrilling event that will showcase the sport and its values to new audiences around the world.
In the quest for the six coveted medals, 144 athletes representing six men’s and six women’s nations will play 40 matches across the four-day event as Rugby returns to the Olympic arena for the first time in 90 years.
Japan, France, Argentina, Kenya, Fiji and USA comprise the men’s competition, with Canada, China, Spain, Australia, Tunisia and USA competing for honours in the women’s event.
Lapasset said: “This is an historic moment for Rugby around the world and an exciting time for the girls and boys who are representing our sport as we return to the Olympic stage.”
“Rugby Sevens is reaching out to new and existing fans with its winning blend of world class players, breath-taking matches and festival atmosphere.”
“I am looking forward to these young players showcasing Rugby to new audiences around the world and engaging and inspiring the next generation of players and fans.”
While the competition is set to be spectacular, Lapasset believes that the Games will play a large role in teaching the future stars of the Game the social power and values of sport.
“This event is about much more than competing. The experiences learned at the Youth Olympic Games will shape the character of the men and women that these young players will become.
“The next generation of Rugby stars will learn to compete in the spirit of fair play, to respect opponents and officials and appreciate the importance of playing on an even playing field.”
Each team will participate in a cultural and education programme that will see players undertake coaching clinics and school visits in Nanjing.
The YOG programme will boost Rugby’s profile and growth in China. In Nanjing alone, more than 3000 young players have been introduced to Rugby via the IRB’s Get Into Rugby programme in the last year.