Olympic coup for rugby sevens

PARIS - The inclusion of rugby sevens in the 2016 Olympic Games was a "defining moment" for a sport that continues to roll back boundaries in interest and growth, according to International Rugby Board chief executive Brett Gosper.

Speaking to AFP ahead of the June 28-30 Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow, Gosper said the abbreviated form of the game was a portal for many people in non-traditional markets into the more complex 15-a-side version.

"It's a very easy sell," said the Australian, who enjoyed a successful career as both a senior advertising executive and former player with the Paris-based Racing club before taking up his role with the IRB.

"It's a very good time for rugby: Olympics, sevens growth and 15s growth, and the World Cup is very strong."

Rugby sevens' inclusion at the Rio Games was "definitely a defining moment because of the money that comes into the game through national Olympic committees and the intent of those countries to compete globally", Gosper said. "The way the Olympics has as its objectives the universality of the game is a huge push for sevens, 15s and rugby in general."

Gosper said the fact the sixth edition of the World Cup Sevens was being held in the Russian capital was significant.

"We're taking rugby to a non-traditional market, which is always great for development and interest," he said, predicting that traditional Olympic heavyweights such as Russia and the US were now focusing more attention on the sport.