The power of Sevens
And so it came to pass that the number seven took over the world. Can rugby Sevens do the same?
Rugby is a very British thing and who better epitomises the Brit than 007 – Bond, James Bond. I doubt whether Connery, Moore or Lazenby played, Dalton and Brosnan looked the type, Craig doesn’t.
Did Howard Keel ever play rugby? Or Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman? Snow White and her wee mates wouldn’t have. Dopey could never catch the ball, but at least they had a ready-made team with a coach. Akiro Kurosawa also recruited a whole team, as did Yul Brunner, not once, not twice, but thrice.
Marilyn Monroe may have had an itch or seven to take up the game, but we’ll never know, she was too busy singing Happy Birthday and other extra curricular activities with JFK.
And then there is screen auteur Ingmar Bergman; what happened to the first six seals he never explained, but he would be too miserable to play, it’s not really a Scandinavian thing.
Harry Potter is riddled with sevens. There are seven books. Potter was born in July, there are seven secret passages out of school, the list goes on and on, but they didn’t play rugby, unusual for a public school.
Seven is one of those numbers in our worldwide culture, you cannot escape from, it is endemic, like three and twelve. It appears in all major religions and all mythological systems. It’s also a pretty interesting number mathematically, but as I don’t find mathematics interesting I won’t labour the point.
In religion, we have the world made in seven days. Oh, did I mention there are seven days in the week. The Passover feast is seven days, the menorah is a seven-branched candelabrum and of course the walls of Jericho fell on the seventh day after seven priests with seven trumpets marched around the city seven times. I suppose hearing trumpets for seven days would be enough for the inhabitants to tear down the walls themselves.
There are seven seas, seven wonders, and there were the Seven Kings of Rome. There were also Seven Hills of Rome. The play As You Like It contains Shakespeare’s Seven Ages of Man theory, and Lawrence of Arabia’s T.E. Lawrence wrote The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Which may have taught you to ride a camel, but obviously not a motorbike.
If you’re musically minded, you’ll know there are seven notes in the western diatonic scale, but you might not know the original circumference of an old 45 RPM single was 7 inches.
In popular worldwide folklore, seven is everywhere, from Ireland’s Cuchulainn having seven fingers and toes on each limb and seven eyes to the common belief in Europe that a seventh son of a seventh son will be clairvoyant.
Life operates in a cycle of sevens. Changes take place in the body every seven years. There are seven bones in the neck, seven bones in the face, seven bones in the ankle, and seven holes in the head.
Human physiology is constructed on a law of sevens. Children are born to mothers in a certain number of weeks, usually 280 days, a multiple of seven. Fevers and intermittent attacks of gout, ague, and similar complaints have a period of operation of seven, 14 or 21 days knows as critical days.
We’re only skimming the surface of the prevalence of number 7 in our worldwide culture and it would take a book to explore every incidence and the why of it, so best get back to rugby.
Many years ago, a try was a try, a penalty was a penalty and a goal was a converted try. A converted try, as we all know, is worth seven, although I’ll concede it wasn’t always so. In the beginning, as they said in the bible, a goal was the only way to score, that is, to get a try at goal you had to touch down between the posts, the touchdown in itself earning no points.
Generally the biblical number seven signifies completeness or perfection, so having seven players on the paddock is perfect. There were 12 disciples in the bible, and there are 12 squad members in a sevens team. And let’s not forget those forwards that play sevens, the holy trinity; those three not-so-fast fellas in the scrum.
And so it came to pass that Sevens took over the world. Undoubtedly, the number seven took over the world along time ago. The game of Sevens might have to wait until Rio in 2016 to launch its own takeover.