Did you follow the thrilling Six Nations match between England and Wales yesterday? Then you probably noticed that there was another match of rugby between the two rivalries straight after England’s Triple Crown win.
Dan Norton was one of many stars who played in yesterdays exhibitions match.
Photo: Martin Seras Lima / IRB
I have to admit that only until late into the six nations match I wasn’t aware about the exhibition rugby sevens game between the two nations. The fact that this contest was promoted, if at all on a very little scale, just showed that it didn’t draw too much attention. Even though the idea to introduce rugby sevens to a vast Twickenham crowd, outside the annual London Sevens, sounded promising but it turned out that this was certainly not the right platform or format to show how attractive sevens has become. I noticed three reasons that lead to this anti-climax.
1. Wrong format!
Rugby sevens is a tournament sport. It is a short and sharp game in every sense and the fact that each match is only seven minutes (or ten in the final) each half, means that this sport builds its excitement through a progressing format in which the best teams meet at the final stage. A one-off game is just a tiny snippet of the whole picture.
2. Wrong moment!
The Six Nations encounter between England and Wales was so compelling and so exciting that a single game of rugby sevens straight after such a match looks like a game of mini rugby, nothing more. You can’t expect an 80,000 crowd that was just thrilled and entertained by a historic England win to draw their full attention to a different sport, which was probably the reason why most of the spectators left Twickenham straight after the Six Nations match. Let each sport have its appropriate platforms. It wouldn’t work the other way around.
3. Wrong occasion!
Again, yesterday’s match was all about the 15-a-side version. And that is fine. Stuart Lancaster’s men played outstanding and entertaining rugby and it was their day. To expect that a single game of sevens would help to promote the game at this occasion was the wrong decision.
However, despite the impression that this exhibition match didn’t meet the expectations, I think it is a good sign that the people in charge are trying new ways to put sevens in the right light. Events like yesterday are great to figure out new strategies to promote sevens.