Sevens World Cup may continue after it becomes Olympic sport
IRB could reverse decision to scrap showpiece and instead slot it between Olympic cycles after the 2016 Games in Rio, chairman reveals
The International Rugby Board will look at keeping the World Cup Sevens and playing it between Olympic cycles following the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro when sevens makes its debut as a medal sport. The IRB had previously maintained that the Moscow World Cup would be the last one now that sevens has been included in the Olympics.
But chairman Bernard Lapasset, who was in Singapore last weekend for the Asian qualifiers for the 2013 World Cup Sevens, told the South China Morning Post that their position may change.
"If Rio is a success, we could look at the possibility of having a World Cup in 2018, two years after this Olympics and two years before the next Olympics. The middle will be best as we can run a World Cup in between the Olympics. That is something we are looking at, but for the moment all our focus is on the Olympics and the Moscow World Cup," Lapasset said.
"For the moment it is not decided [whether it will be the last World Cup]. We are busy preparing for the Olympics in 2016 and have had no time to look at a World Cup [in 2017]. A future World Cup will depend on the results at the Olympics. If we do well in Rio, and it is a huge success, it could be possible to continue with a World Cup after the Olympics."
Lapasset said the IRB would keep pushing the International Olympic Committee for more places at the Olympics and extending the duration of the tournament from a two-day event. Men and women will contest two golds in sevens, with both competitions restricted to 12 teams.
"We will press for 16 teams, or even more. But for the moment, every team sport at the Olympics apart from football is 12. Football has 16 but they start before the Olympics begin. We want to have our competition inside the Olympics [during its duration]," Lapasset said. " We will have discussions with the IOC, for even a five-day event. At the moment, we need more competition for the 12 teams. It is important to change the format to extend it to four or five days."
Lapasset also called on all countries to field their best possible teams at the Olympics to showcase the sport.
"Success will be gauged by the players on the field. We have to deliver the best players, this is crucial and I hope all the countries who qualify will take steps to see that their best players are out on the field."
The Frenchman said the fact England, Wales and Scotland will compete as Great Britain will open the door for others.
"We will have a number of new countries coming into the 12. We have still not decided how the qualification system for the Olympics will work but we will be certain to use the HSBC World Sevens Series as a pathway.
"One part will qualify from the World Sevens Series and one part from regional qualifiers. All this will be decided by the end of the year. Next month we will have a meeting with the IOC in Lausanne, where we will hopefully be able to come to an agreement on the process."