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Rugby Sevens FAQs

All you need to know about Rugby Sevens

What is rugby sevens and how do you play it?

Rugby sevens is an abbreviated form of rugby, featuring two teams of seven players. Played on a full-size rugby pitch, the opposing teams compete to score points via tries, conversions, penalties and drop goals. The winning team is the one with the most points at the end of the match.

How do you play rugby sevens?

Rugby sevens is played on the same sized pitch as 15s rugby, and the object of the game is the same: to move the ball into your opponent’s end of the field and score points via tries, conversions and, very occasionally, penalties and drop goals.

As in 15s, the ball must be passed backwards and can be moved up the pitch by running, passing or kicking it. Each team consists of seven players, three forwards and four backs.

How long is a rugby sevens game?

A rugby sevens match is 14 minutes long, consisting of two halves of seven minutes each. You can read about the laws of rugby and its sevens variations here.

When is sevens rugby played?

Rugby sevens was traditionally played at the end of the season, however, it is now played all year round. The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series season runs from October until June. Read about the history of sevens here.

Why is it called rugby sevens?

Rugby sevens is so called because it features teams of seven players. Originally called seven-a-side rugby when it was first played in Melrose, Scotland in 1883, the name has since been abbreviated to rugby sevens, or just sevens. You can find out more about the history of sevens here.

When did rugby sevens start?

Rugby sevens was first played in the Scottish border town of Melrose in 1883, as part of a fundraising drive for the local club. Apprentice butcher Ned Haig and his master David Sanderson are credited with the idea of cutting teams to seven players and playing matches of seven minutes each way, albeit they proposed only a one-minute break. Today’s law book states the half-time interval should not exceed two minutes.

Today, the winning men’s team at Rugby World Cup Sevens is awarded the Melrose Cup. Read more about the history of sevens here.

Who invented rugby sevens?

Rugby sevens was invented in Melrose, Scotland in 1883 when apprentice butcher Ned Haig and his master David Sanderson suggested playing seven-a-side matches of 15 minutes (seven minutes each way with a one-minute half-time break) to cut down the costs of hosting a fundraising tournament. Read more about the history of rugby sevens here.

How long are halves in rugby sevens?

Each half of a rugby sevens match is seven minutes long. Discover more about the laws of rugby and the variations that apply in sevens here.

What are the rules of rugby sevens?

Sevens is governed by the laws of rugby union, subject to several variations. The difference in laws relate to the number of players on a team and the duration of matches, but also, among others, how conversions are taken and which team restarts once a try has been scored. You can find a full breakdown of the law variations here.

Who is the best rugby sevens team?

Fiji are the current men’s Olympic champions and have a rich pedigree in the game, however, New Zealand are the most successful sevens nation.

The All Blacks Sevens have won three Rugby World Cup Sevens and 13 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series titles, and currently hold both crowns. The Black Ferns Sevens, meanwhile, have won two RWC Sevens and six of the eight women’s editions of the World Series.

Who are the fastest rugby sevens players?

The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series is home to a number of pacey players, chief among whom are the USA’s Carlin Isles and Australia’s Trae Williams.

Isles — seventh on the all-time list of men’s World Series try scorers — has a personal best in the 100m of 10.13 seconds, while Williams is a former sprinter who previously clocked a time of 10.1 secs over 100m at the Australian Athletics Championship.

New Zealand’s Portia Woodman, meanwhile, has been clocked running at 31kph on the World Series. That would equate to a time of around 11.6 secs over 100m, less than half a second outside the women’s qualifying time for Tokyo 2020. Not bad in rugby boots!

What is the difference between rugby and rugby sevens?

Rugby sevens is an abbreviated format of rugby. It is played on the same size pitch as 15s but features two teams of seven players, with matches consisting of two halves of seven minutes. You can discover more about sevens here.

How many players are on a rugby sevens team?

A rugby sevens team consists of seven players, three forwards and four backs. As it is played on a full-size rugby pitch, those players need to be incredibly fit and have plenty of speed, skill and stamina. Learn more about positions in sevens and the demands of the game on its players.

How are points awarded in rugby sevens?

As in 15s, the object of sevens is to move the ball into your opponent’s territory to score tries. Five points are awarded for a try, with the subsequent conversion worth an extra two. In the event of a penalty try, the scoring team is awarded seven points with no need for a conversion. Penalties and drop goals are each worth three points. Find out more about scoring points in rugby here.

What are the positions in rugby sevens?

Each sevens team consists of three forwards and four backs. Due to fitness requirements, the differences between positions are not as pronounced as in 15s. However, a team’s more physical players will invariably play as forwards, while its quickest members will line-up out wide, with a scrum-half and fly-half knitting things together. Learn more about positions in both sevens and 15s here.

What happens if there is a tied game in rugby sevens?

What happens when a sevens match is drawn depends on the stage of the tournament. If a tie occurs during the pool stage of a competition, then the teams will share the points. However, if a knockout match is drawn the teams will contest sudden-death extra-time.

The team that scores the first points in the extra period is declared the winner, without any further play. You can read about the laws of rugby and the variations for sevens here.

What is Rugby World Cup Sevens?

Rugby World Cup Sevens is an international sevens tournament that was first played in Edinburgh in 1993. Since RWC Sevens 2009, the event has featured the best men’s and women’s teams on the planet.

New Zealand have won the men’s title three times and the women’s twice, making them the most successful nation in tournament history. Read more about the story of RWC Sevens here.

How often is Rugby World Cup Sevens?

Rugby World Cup Sevens is played every four years. There were five years between RWC Sevens 2013 and the next tournament in 2018 to ensure that it fit in the middle of the Olympic cycle.

What is the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series?

The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series is an annual competition that consists of a number of tournaments held around the world. Men’s and women’s teams compete at events for series points, and an overall champion is crowned at the end of the season. Read more about the World Series here.

Why is rugby sevens in the Olympics and 15s rugby isn’t?

Fifteens featured at four Olympic Games between 1900-24, but rugby was absent from the programme until sevens was included in 2009, and made its debut at Rio 2016.

The vibrant and exciting format of sevens reinforces the Olympic movement’s ideals thanks to rugby’s long standing ethos of fair play and friendship. Read more about sevens and the Olympics here.

Who won the rugby sevens at the Olympics?

Australia became the first Olympic sevens champions when they beat New Zealand to win gold in the women’s tournament at Rio 2016. Fiji won the men’s tournament, securing a first-ever Olympic medal for the Pacific Island nation when they beat Great Britain in the final.