Olympic inclusion gives sport a boost

John
John Browne
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RUGBY

Provincial rugby coach Pat Parfrey says the addition of rugby sevens to the Olympic Games can only mean positive things for the sport in this province and across the country.

"As the High Performance Rugby Centre for Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland will have to play a leadership role in the development of sevens," Parfrey explained.

Provincial rugby coach Pat Parfrey says the addition of rugby sevens to the Olympic Games can only mean positive things for the sport in this province and across the country.

"As the High Performance Rugby Centre for Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland will have to play a leadership role in the development of sevens," Parfrey explained.

"It is possible that the need for fewer good athletes to create a sevens team than for 15s may close the gap with British Columbia and Ontario, although it is likely that this gap will persist unless we can attract more good athletes than we currently do," he said.

"The potential to play in the Olympics may help in this regard as the most direct path to the Olympics for a Newfoundland and Labrador athlete may be via sevens, notwithstanding the fact that curling is the best example of this currently," Parfrey said.

Two sports added

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) added rugby sevens and golf to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro after a vote of members in Copenhagen two weeks ago. Rugby was last played at the Olympics in Paris in 1924.

The rugby sevens game consists of two seven-minute halfs (20-minute championship games) and is played mostly by speedy backs and forwards who can also move quickly. Scrums consist of three men instead of eight.

"The advent of rugby sevens in the Olympics will introduce a wider world to a very exciting sport - a game which is less technical than 15s, but more open, fast and continuous," said Parfrey.

"It should mean sevens will receive more funding from the federal government because it will be an Olympic sport and it will probably become a Canada Games sport."

Fifteens rugby has been dropped from the 2013 Canada Summer Games scheduled for Sherbrooke, Que.

Parfrey also said rugby sevens is likely to spread to smaller communities because fewer players are required and, "coaching is less technically challenging than 15s."

However, Parfrey says don't look for the sevens game to replace traditional 15s.

"Fifteens is not likely to suffer," said Parfrey, "because it is a game with deep roots, which caters to all shapes and sizes, and has an attractive social culture.

"The priority for the International Rugby Board (IRB ) is 15s, which now has a professional base in 10 countries," he said.

"And," Parfrey points out, "the Rugby World Cup will continue every four years. It is likely that sevens will be a feeder and training ground for 15s."

Parfrey guided The Rock, Atlantic Canada's representative, to a 1-2 record in the new Americas Rugby Championship (ARC) league this season.

British Columbia Bears defeated Ontario Blues 12-8 for the Canadian division title and will play Argentina for the ARC championship today. Argentina defeated United States 57-10 to advance to the league final in Markham, Ont. The Blues and U.S. teams will play for the bronze medal.

jbrowne@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Olympics, Olympic Games, High Performance Rugby Centre for Atlantic Canada International Olympic Committee (IOC) International Rugby Board

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, British Columbia, Ontario Atlantic Canada Rio de Janeiro Copenhagen Paris Argentina Sherbrooke, Que Markham U.S.

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