WHO INVENTED RUGBY SEVENS?
Melrose Rugby Football Club player and butcher David Sanderson and his apprentice Ned Haig, who was Melrose club captain at the time.
Melrose had a fine rugby side but was experiencing financial difficulties and the committee, in an attempt to raise much-needed funds, decided to organise an athletic meeting, or a Sports Day, at the end of the 1883 season, which is when Sanderson and Haig came up with their idea.
With time and money tight, Sanderson and Haig proposed cutting down the teams from 15 to seven players (three forwards, two half-backs and two backs) and the playing time to 15 minutes in total (two halves of seven minutes each and a one minute half-time break).
WHEN WAS THE FIRST RUGBY SEVENS GAME PLAYED?
28 April, 1883, in Melrose, Scotland.
The Scottish Border town is known as ‘the birthplace of sevens’ and sides still compete for the ‘Ladies Cup’, the name of the trophy awarded to the winners.
Seven Border clubs – Gala, Selkirk, St. Cuthbert’s Hawick, Earlston, Melrose, Gala Forest and St. Ronan’s Innerleithen – entered the first tournament at the now famous Greenyards ground.
Hosts Melrose were the first winners after a contentious extra-time win against local rivals Gala.
WHERE WAS THE FIRST-EVER INTERNATIONAL RUGBY SEVENS TOURNAMENT?
In 1973, the Scottish Rugby Union celebrated its centenary with an international seven-a-side tournament, the SRU Centenary Sevens.
England prevailed by beating an Irish team in the final at Murrayfield, having overcome strong opposition from Wales, Scotland, New Zealand, Australia, France and the Barbarians.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST RUGBY SEVENS TOURNAMENT IN THE WORLD?
The biggest seven-a-side tournament in the world remains the Rosslyn Park Sevens, launched in 1939 by the late Charles Burton, founder of the Public School Wanderers, which every year gathers ever more school teams from around the world.
WHEN DID RUGBY WORLD CUP SEVENS BEGIN?
The sevens version of the men’s Rugby World Cup began in 1993 – six years after the first 15s tournament. Fittingly, it was played in Scotland, the ‘birthplace’ of sevens, and England won the competition and as a result became the first team to lift the Melrose Cup.
WHICH TEAMS HAVE WON THE MOST RUGBY WORLD CUP SEVENS TITLES?
New Zealand, known as the All Blacks Sevens, have won it the most times with three titles (2001, 2013 and 2018). Both of Fiji’s triumphs came eight years apart in Hong Kong (1997 and 2005), while Wales were shock winners in Dubai in 2009, the same year that the women’s competition was introduced.
Australia were the first winners of the women’s competition, but New Zealand took the next two titles on offer, in 2013 and 2018.
WHEN DID THE WORLD RUGBY SEVENS SERIES START?
The men’s World Rugby Sevens Series began in 1999/2000 and featured nine tournaments, starting off in Dubai and ending in Paris.
New Zealand and Fiji won all the Cup titles between them, with the All Blacks Sevens coming out on top in the final standings by just six points.
The women’s version of the World Series also began in Dubai, in 2012, with the remaining three tournaments held in Houston, Guangzhou and Amsterdam.
New Zealand won three Cup titles to be crowned World Series champions ahead of England, the winners in Houston.
The women’s World Series was due to feature eight tournaments in 2020 but only five were played before the COVID-19 pandemic cut short the campaign.
WHEN DID RUGBY SEVENS BECOME AN OLYMPIC SPORT?
On 9 October, 2009, in Copenhagen, the members of the International Olympic Committee voted almost unanimously to include rugby sevens in the programme of the Olympic Games for 2016 (Rio de Janeiro) and 2020 (Tokyo).
With rugby sevens proving a big hit in Rio, in September 2017 the IOC voted to retain rugby sevens as an Olympic sport for the 2024 Paris Games.
WHEN DID THE HONG KONG SEVENS BEGIN?
Legend has it that among the keen Murrayfield crowd in May 1973, there were a couple of Hong Kong expatriates, Ian Gow and ‘Tokkie’ Smith, the then Chairman of the Hong Kong RFU.
From there, the idea of a regular rugby sevens tournament took shape. By the end of 1975 the first Hong Kong Sevens tournament was devised, with the inaugural event played in 1976. By the mid-1980s the event was firmly established on the rugby calendar.
WHY IS THE HONG KONG SEVENS SO POPULAR?
If Melrose is the birthplace of the game, Hong Kong is its spiritual home.
The Hong Kong Sevens is always the most-eagerly anticipated of all the tournament on the World Series because of its history and the buzz generated by the capacity crowds.
With its party-like atmosphere, the Hong Kong Sevens has become a ‘bucket-list’ destination for rugby fans of all persuasions.
The South Stand in the Hong Kong Stadium is where the most raucous fans, usually in fancy dress, are seen and heard – all day and all night long.
There is a saying in Hong Kong: "If you ever get bored of the sevens, you can turn around and watch the rugby".
WHICH ARE THE BEST-EVER RUGBY SEVENS TEAMS?
The reigning Olympic champions are Fiji’s men and Australia’s women, who both won the gold medal at the inaugural rugby sevens Olympic tournament in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
The World Rugby Sevens Series has been a measure of consistency over the last couple of decades for men’s teams and since 2012 for women’s teams.
The World Series features a number of tournaments played at different locations around the world, with a sliding scale of points awarded to teams based on finishing positions.
Since its introduction in 1999, New Zealand have won 13 of the 21 men’s Series titles available. The All Blacks Sevens were triumphant in eight of the first nine years but their 2020 success was the first time they had won the title in six years, with Fiji and South Africa taking over as the teams to beat.
There has been an Australasian monopoly of the women’s World Series, with New Zealand winning six and Australia two of the eight titles.
WHO ARE CONSIDERED THE BEST-EVER RUGBY SEVENS PLAYERS?
It’s an impossible question to answer definitively, as people’s views may differ. However, few would dispute Waisale Serevi’s credentials as the so-called ‘King of Sevens’.
Always the entertainer, the Fijian maestro scored 1,310 points on the World Series and a record 297 points in Rugby World Cup Sevens tournaments.
Eric Rush of New Zealand was another star of the past, captaining his country to gold medals in the 1998 and 2002 Commonwealth Games as well as appearing in three Rugby World Cup Sevens tournaments.
Of the modern-day players, Jerry Tuwai of Fiji is a carbon-copy of Serevi with his ability to beat defenders with ease, while former USA sprinter Carlin Isles has earned a reputation as ‘the fastest man in rugby’.
Again, the choice is subjective when it comes to stars of the women’s game, but Michaela Blyde has to be on the list.
The New Zealander became the first to be named World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year in successive seasons when she received the award in both 2017 and 2018.
The second award came after a dominant performance at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 in San Francisco, during which she scored nine tries in four appearances — including two hat-tricks.
No female player has scored more points on the World Series than Canada captain Ghislaine Landry, so she has to be in the conversation, too.
Landry, who has amassed 1,356 in 208 matches, played a pivotal role as Canada finished as runners-up to New Zealand at RWC Sevens 2013 in Moscow.
WHO ARE THE WINNERS OF THE MEN’S WORLD RUGBY SEVENS SERIES?
1999/00 – New Zealand
2000/01 – New Zealand
2001/02 – New Zealand
2002/03 – New Zealand
2003/04 – New Zealand
2004/05 – New Zealand
2005/06 – Fiji
2006/07 – New Zealand
2007/08 – New Zealand
2008/09 – South Africa
2009/10 – Samoa
2010/11 – New Zealand
2011/12 – New Zealand
2012/13 – New Zealand
2013/14 – New Zealand
2014/15 – Fiji
2015/16 – Fiji
2016/17 – South Africa
2018 – South Africa
2019 – Fiji
2020 – New Zealand
WHO ARE THE WINNERS OF THE WOMEN’S WORLD RUGBY SEVENS SERIES?
2012/13 – New Zealand
2013/14 – New Zealand
2014/15 – New Zealand
2015/16 – Australia
2016/17 – New Zealand
2018 – Australia
2019 – New Zealand
2020 – New Zealand