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Men's rugby sevens tournament to get underway on Tuesday in Rio


08-08-2016 11:08 BJT

Full coverage: 2016 Rio Olympics

While swimming has long been one of the most popular Olympic events, this year marks the first appearance of rugby sevens at the Games.

The women's tournament is already underway, while the men are about 24 hours from making their debut in Rio.

Many of the players believe the exposure will provide a huge boost for the sport. Dan Williams has the story.

Looking to kick rugby to a whole new level. Rugby sevens makes its Olympic debut in Rio and marks the first time rugby of any kind has been played at an Olympics since 1924. It promises to be fiercely competitive. And the players can’t wait to showcase their talent.

"To be involved in what most people consider the pinnacle of sport, the Olympics and even when I have been cruising around the village and seeing the high profile athletes and realizing what everyone is here to do, it just makes it feel so much more real," said Kyle Brown, South Africa captain.

South Africa is among the favorites to claim gold alongside the likes of Fiji and New Zealand. But it is hoped rugby sevens Olympic inclusion could help the sport develop in other countries.
Brazil is one of the less fancied teams at this competition. They hope that the exposure that will be gained over the course of the Games can help shine some much needed attention on the sport in the country.

"People come into the sport because it is the Olympics, because rugby is part of the Olympics. Young people getting involved in the sport in a different way through social projects, through the clubs, and now at the high level of the sport. So I think there has already been an injection of enthusiasm into the game here, and I think things will only build from the Olympics," said Juliano Fiori, Brazil center.

Even for countries with more prestigious rugby pedigrees, the Olympics promises to expand the appeal of the game to new audiences.

"Obviously this is the biggest sporting event in the world. And for rugby sevens to be part of it is fantastic. Not just for sevens, but for rugby as a whole, and we are excited about what is to come," said Neil Powell, South Africa coach.

"It’s the pinnacle of sport and everyone is going to be watching it. Bringing something new is going to make people more curious, and I know it is going to attract people as it is a very dynamic, very explosive," said Seabelo Senatla, South Africa wing.

The Olympics has provided rugby with an exciting new stage, and the players are unlikely to disappoint.

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