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What Is a Rugby Sevens Tournament?

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If you’re scratching your head trying to understand rugby sevens, you’re not alone. It’s a whirlwind of a sport where teams of seven players clash in quick, adrenaline-pumping matches.

This article will clear the fog around the exhilarating world of rugby sevens tournaments, from basic rules to nail-biting championships. Dive in for a fast-track guide to one of rugby’s most thrilling spectacles!

Key Takeaways

  • Rugby Sevens is a fast-paced variant of traditional rugby union, played with seven players per side on a full-sized pitch, leading to quick, high-scoring games.
  • The sport has shorter match times consisting of two seven-minute halves and demands players to have speed, agility, and quick decision-making skills.
  • Originating in Scotland in 1883, Rugby Sevens has grown internationally with major tournaments like the World Rugby Sevens Series and inclusion in events such as the Summer Olympics.
  • Key differences from regular rugby include adjusted scrumming rules for fewer players and rolling substitutions to maintain the game’s pace.
  • The future of Rugby Sevens looks promising due to its increasing popularity and commercial potential, along with opportunities for further international expansion.

What is Rugby Sevens?

Rugby Sevens is a variant of Rugby Union played by 7 players on each side, with shorter and faster-paced matches on a full-sized pitch. It’s known for its high-octane action and dynamic gameplay, making it an exhilarating sport to watch.

A variant of Rugby Union

Sevens rugby stands as a thrilling offshoot of traditional rugby union, characterised by teams of seven players and a game that’s both faster and higher scoring. The expansive rugby pitch remains the same size, but with fewer players, there’s more space to manoeuvre, inviting daring runs and strategic plays.

Each side showcases incredible athleticism within two halves of just seven minutes each—creating an electrifying atmosphere that keeps fans on their toes.

This high-octane version places emphasis on speed and agility, requiring players to possess not only physical prowess but also quick decision-making skills. With its origins tracing back to 1883 in Scotland, Sevens has evolved into an international phenomenon led by governing body World Rugby.

Tournaments like the Hong Kong Sevens enthrall spectators globally while events such as the Olympic Games and Rugby World Cup Sevens underscore its status at the pinnacle of world sport.

Played by 7 players on each side

With rugby sevens being a variant of Rugby Union, the most distinctive feature is that it’s played by 7 players on each side. The smaller teams give way to an exceptionally dynamic and fast-paced game, where every player’s contribution holds immense significance.

With fewer players on the field, each individual has more ground to cover and greater responsibility in both attack and defense. This not only demands exceptional physical fitness but also strategic teamwork from all seven team members.

As a result, the sport offers an incredible display of athleticism, speed, and skill that keeps fans at the edge of their seats throughout the match.

Shorter and faster-paced matches

Rugby Sevens matches are notably swifter and more intense than traditional rugby union games. With just two seven-minute halves and a brief two-minute halftime, the pace is relentless, keeping fans on the edge of their seats throughout.

Thanks to its shortened format, Rugby Sevens demands quick thinking and swift decision-making from players, resulting in a fast-paced game that provides non-stop action.

The nature of shorter matches means that every second counts, making for an exhilarating experience for both players and spectators. This rapid style of play also contributes to higher scores, adding to the thrill and excitement of each match.

Played on a full-sized pitch

Rugby Sevens tournaments are played on a full-sized pitch, just like traditional Rugby Union matches. The field dimensions for a rugby sevens match are the same as those used in the fifteens game, measuring 100 metres long and 70 metres wide.

This ensures that players have plenty of space to showcase their speed and agility, creating an electrifying spectacle for fans. The size of the pitch allows for fast-paced action and thrilling try-scoring opportunities, making it a perfect stage for showcasing the dynamic nature of rugby sevens.

The large playing area encourages expansive gameplay where teams can exploit open spaces to outmanoeuvre their opponents. With fewer players on each team covering more ground, every inch of the full-sized pitch becomes crucial in determining the outcome of each match.

Rules and Gameplay

Rugby Sevens has the same basic rules as Rugby Union, but with some variations, such as shorter match times and specific laws to accommodate the faster pace of the game. Want to learn more about how Rugby Sevens is played? Keep reading!

Overview of the rules

  1. Seven Players Per Team: Each team consists of seven players, making for a fast-paced and dynamic game.
  2. Seven-Minute Halves: Matches are split into two halves, each lasting seven minutes, with a two-minute halftime break.
  3. Continuous Play: The game is played without stoppages, creating an intense and action-packed experience for both players and spectators.
  4. Tries and Conversions: Scoring involves the same principles as rugby union, with tries worth five points and conversions adding two points.
  5. Knock-Ons and Offsides: Players must adhere to the laws regarding knock-ons and offsides, ensuring fair play throughout the match.
  6. Variations in Scrumming: The scrum process is adjusted to accommodate the smaller team size, leading to quicker restarts and fluid gameplay.
  7. Substitutions: Teams can make rolling substitutions throughout the match, allowing for strategic changes based on fatigue or injury.
  8. Referee Management: Officials manage the game with precision, enforcing the rules to maintain fairness and sportsmanship on the field.

Variations to the laws of the game

Rugby Sevens introduces some variations to the laws of the game, reflecting its fast-paced nature. With shorter matches and fewer players on each side, the rules are adapted to ensure quick and action-packed gameplay.

For instance, the duration of a match is reduced to two seven-minute halves with a two-minute halftime break, creating an electrifying pace. This dynamic format fosters skillful attacking play and exhilarating tries, captivating fans worldwide.

The modifications in the laws of Rugby Sevens transform traditional rugby into an exciting spectacle that showcases intense athleticism and strategic prowess. These adjustments contribute to making Rugby Sevens one of the most enthralling variations of rugby, captivating both seasoned enthusiasts and new followers alike.

Positions and gameplay

Players in Rugby Sevens cover three main positions: forwards, backs, and the sweeper. Forwards are generally responsible for set-piece play and physical work around the breakdown. Backs focus on pace and agility, involved in open-field running and scoring tries.

The sweeper acts as a last line of defense, crucial for preventing opposition breakaways.

The gameplay centers around quick decision-making due to the fast-paced nature of rugby sevens matches. Speed is essential for both offense and defense with players needing to switch between attacking and defensive roles rapidly throughout the game.

Pace of the match

Rugby Sevens matches are known for their rapid pace and non-stop action. With only seven players on each side, the game is played over two quick seven-minute halves, making it an exhilarating experience for both players and spectators.

The short match duration creates an intense and fast-paced gameplay, characterised by rapid ball movement, impressive footwork, and continuous scoring opportunities. This unique format ensures that every moment of the game is packed with excitement and skilful displays of speed and agility.

The dynamic nature of Rugby Sevens allows for thrilling back-and-forth action throughout the entire match. Teams must maintain high energy levels as they play at a relentless tempo, resulting in a spectacular display of athleticism and strategic manoeuvring on the field.

History of Rugby Sevens

Rugby Sevens has its origins in Melrose, Scotland in 1883 and has since spread internationally, becoming a popular and exciting variant of the sport. Major tournaments include the World Rugby Sevens Series, World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, Summer Olympics, World Cup Sevens, and Commonwealth Games.


Rugby sevens has its origins in a fundraising event held in Scotland in 1883 by Ned Haig and David Sanderson. The sport was initially conceived as a way to raise funds, but it quickly gained popularity for its fast-paced and thrilling gameplay.

Since then, rugby sevens has evolved into an international rugby tournament, captivating sports enthusiasts from around the world. With its roots deeply embedded in Scottish history, the sport has expanded globally and continues to attract a wide audience of fans.

The creation of rugby sevens stemmed from a desire to support charitable causes while providing an exciting sporting spectacle. Over time, it has grown into one of the most eagerly anticipated events on the international rugby calendar, drawing players and spectators alike to celebrate this dynamic and action-packed variant of the game.

International spread and development

Rugby sevens has seen significant global expansion, with tournaments now held in various countries worldwide. This growth has been fueled by the sport’s thrilling and fast-paced nature, which has captured the interest of fans beyond traditional rugby strongholds.

Notably, the Hong Kong Sevens tournament stands out as a prime example of this international appeal, attracting enthusiastic spectators from across the globe. Additionally, institutions such as World Rugby have played a crucial role in fostering this development through their administration and promotion of rugby sevens on an international scale.

The adoption and success of rugby sevens have bolstered its position as a popular sport within diverse communities worldwide. With its high-adrenaline matches and fast-paced action, it continues to attract new fans globally while captivating existing ones with its unique brand of excitement and athleticism.

Major tournaments

Rugby sevens boasts several major tournaments that draw in fans and showcase top-level talent. These prestigious events include:

  1. World Rugby Sevens Series, featuring multiple tournaments held in various countries and showcasing the best teams in the world.
  2. World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, providing a platform for elite women’s teams to compete at an international level.
  3. Summer Olympics, where rugby sevens made its debut in 2016 and has become a highly anticipated event during the Games.
  4. World Cup Sevens, offering a pinnacle competition for national teams to vie for the title of world champions in the shorter format of the game.
  5. Commonwealth Games, presenting an opportunity for nations within the Commonwealth to excel in rugby sevens on a global stage.

Prominent Rugby Sevens Tournaments

The World Rugby Sevens Series, World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, Summer Olympics, World Cup Sevens, and Commonwealth Games are some of the most prominent rugby sevens tournaments.

To learn more about these exciting events and their impact on the sport of rugby, keep reading!

World Rugby Sevens Series

The World Rugby Sevens Series is a prestigious annual competition governed by World Rugby, featuring men’s and women’s teams from various nations. With tournaments held in different countries, it offers a platform for top sides to showcase their skills and compete for the championship title.

The series consists of multiple events where teams earn points based on their performance, ultimately leading to an overall winner at the end of the season. Notably, the fast-paced nature and electrifying atmosphere make it a thrilling experience for both players and fans alike, contributing to the global appeal of rugby sevens.

As part of World Rugby’s efforts to promote inclusivity in sports, the Women’s Sevens Series has gained significant momentum over the years. It provides female athletes with opportunities to excel on an international stage while attracting growing interest from supporters worldwide.

World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series

Transitioning from the World Rugby Sevens Series to the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, it is worth noting that the latter has been gaining significant traction in recent years.

With several international tournaments taking place annually, this series showcases elite female talent in the sport of rugby sevens. The women’s series features a host of talented athletes competing across various locations, bringing fast-paced action and high-level skills to fans around the world.

Featuring globally recognised teams and players, the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series offers an exciting platform for female rugby players to showcase their abilities on an international stage.

Summer Olympics

Rugby sevens made its debut at the Summer Olympics in 2016, adding an exciting new dimension to the Games. The tournament featured both men’s and women’s competitions, drawing attention from rugby fans worldwide.

With its rapid pace and high-scoring nature, rugby sevens proved to be a thrilling addition to the Olympic lineup.

As part of the Summer Olympics, rugby sevens showcased the sport on a global stage, captivating audiences with its dynamic gameplay and showcasing top-tier talent from around the world.

The inclusion of rugby sevens in this prestigious event further solidified its status as a prominent international tournament. The enthusiasm generated by these tournaments has helped raise awareness for this variant of rugby among sports enthusiasts globally.

World Cup Sevens

The World Cup Sevens is a prestigious tournament in the rugby sevens calendar, showcasing the pinnacle of international competition. It features national teams from around the world vying for glory and is renowned for its thrilling and intense matches.

With high stakes and fast-paced action, the World Cup Sevens draws attention from rugby fans globally.

Teams compete vigorously for the coveted title, bringing together top talents in an electrifying display of skill and athleticism. The tournament serves as a platform for players to exhibit their mastery of sevens rugby, captivating audiences with its dynamic gameplay and exhilarating moments.

Commonwealth Games

Rugby sevens is also a significant part of the Commonwealth Games, showcasing the sport’s global appeal and providing a platform for teams from across the Commonwealth to compete at an international level.

The inclusion of rugby sevens in the games has brought further attention to this dynamic and high-energy variant of rugby, drawing fans and players alike to witness and participate in the exhilarating matches.

With its fast-paced action and condensed format, rugby sevens adds an exciting dimension to the sporting spectacle of the Commonwealth Games, contributing to its status as a major highlight for both athletes and spectators.

The Future of Rugby Sevens

The future of Rugby Sevens looks bright with the growing popularity, business opportunities, and potential for further international expansion. To learn more about this exciting sport and its tournaments, keep reading!

Growth in popularity

Rugby Sevens has seen a surge in popularity, attracting new fans who are captivated by its fast-paced and high-scoring nature. The sport’s exciting and dynamic gameplay, along with the shorter match duration, has made it more accessible to a wider audience.

Major tournaments like the World Rugby Sevens Series and the Summer Olympics have significantly contributed to raising the profile of rugby sevens on the global stage. With increasing international participation and broadcasting opportunities, rugby sevens is set to continue its upward trajectory in terms of popularity.

Moving forward from this significant growth in popularity, let’s delve into the business aspects that drive Rugby Sevens tournaments.

Business aspects

Commercially, rugby sevens has become a lucrative venture for both players and event organisers. With the sport’s increasing popularity and global reach, player contracts and salaries have grown substantially.

Major tournaments like the World Rugby Sevens Series, Women’s Sevens Series, Summer Olympics, World Cup Sevens, and Commonwealth Games attract significant sponsorships and partnerships with prominent brands seeking to capitalise on the sport’s enthusiastic fan base.

The potential for further international expansion presents opportunities for new markets and revenue streams through broadcasting rights, merchandise sales, ticketing, and hospitality packages.

As the sport continues to grow in prominence around the world, businesses are seizing opportunities to invest in rugby sevens events as a means of reaching broader audiences and engaging with passionate fans.

Player contracts and salaries

While the commercial aspect of rugby sevens is gaining momentum, player contracts and salaries are also on the rise. As the sport continues to grow in popularity, top players are commanding higher salaries from professional rugby sevens teams and national unions.

With the increasing global appeal of tournaments such as the World Rugby Sevens Series and inclusion in prestigious events like the Summer Olympics, elite players are seeing improved financial rewards, making rugby sevens an attractive career path for talented athletes.

For instance, star players who consistently perform at a high level can negotiate lucrative contracts with club teams and secure sponsorship deals with major brands. As more resources pour into developing rugby sevens talent around the world, competitive salaries and endorsement opportunities offer promising prospects for athletes looking to pursue a career in this fast-paced and dynamic sport.

Potential for further international expansion

Player contracts and salaries drive the professionalisation of Rugby Sevens, but beyond the financial aspect, there’s a growing potential for further international expansion. As the sport gains popularity in new regions, it creates opportunities for more international tournaments and increased participation.

The inclusion of Rugby Sevens in global events like the Summer Olympics has also contributed to its exposure to wider audiences, prompting interest and growth across diverse cultures.

The appeal of Rugby Sevens lies not only in its fast-paced nature but also in its adaptability to different terrains and climates, making it an ideal candidate for expanding into new markets.


In conclusion, Rugby Sevens is a dynamic and fast-paced variant of rugby union. The tournament format, with seven players on each team, creates an action-packed game. With shorter matches and high-scoring nature, it has gained popularity among rugby fans worldwide.

The sport’s global appeal continues to grow, making Rugby Sevens tournaments a thrilling spectacle for sports enthusiasts.


1. What exactly is a Rugby Sevens tournament?

A Rugby Sevens tournament is a seven-a-side variant of rugby, where teams compete in games with seven-minute halves following rugby’s rules.

2. How does a Rugby Sevens match differ from a traditional rugby match?

In a Rugby Sevens match, there are fewer players on the pitch, shorter halves, and it generally results in a faster-paced game compared to the standard rugby team matches.

3. Can you tell me about the Rugby Sevens World Cup?

The Rugby Sevens World Cup is an international championship where teams from around the world play sevens format to win the prestigious title in this fast-paced version of rugby.

4. Is playing time different in sevens compared to regular rugby games?

Yes, each half lasts only seven minutes instead of 40 minutes like traditional full-sized rugby games, making for quick and exciting matches.

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