Rugby 7s rush into Rio and blind new Olympic audience

The world is waiting for a return to the sport.

It may take some time to resume the games that we play and which we watch as spectators.

Even then there is a ghost that the “new normal” for sports may include stadiums with few or no fans in the stands, while professional leagues are struggling to organize their competitions against a kind of homogenized, centralized isolation in events created for television.

Again, this is better than no sport at all that we had to endure for the past five weeks or so.

Continuing to defeat the absolute competitor of COVID-19, we once again delve into the vault to recall the great sport of the past.

This Saturday, May 9th, will be the eighth of several weeks of programming at CBC Sports, where some of the most memorable moments from the various issues of the Olympic Games, both winter and summer, will be shown.

Episode 8 of Repeat Olympic Games shows the debut sport of rugby 7 for men and women at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

WATCH | Canada earns inaugural rugby 7 Olympic bronze:

The Canadian women’s rugby 7 team defeated Britain at 33-10, winning a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics. 0:59

New traditional team sports are not often admitted to the modern Olympic program, because the International Olympic Committee seeks to reduce the number of athletes and make the Games more sustainable.

But just as individual karate, surf, sport climbing and skateboarding sports hope to make a splash at the Tokyo Olympics, Rugby Seven was a big hit in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

The thrills of the sevens

Only at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was this fast-paced game challenged at a major international multisport event.

He achieved instant success because the world’s first rugby superstar, John Lomu from New Zealand, led her team to a gold medal and delighted fans in what was a lightning tournament held in just two days.

In Toronto 2015, the curtain rose to rugby 7 on the stage of the Pan American Games in front of fans of the wild partisan on BMO Field – which was known as the Exhibition Stadium during those Games.

Canadian men and women won gold medals and brought a flurry of sevens to the national consciousness.

“Going to Pan Ams was a completely new experience for us, which helped us give a little idea of ​​what the Olympics would look like,” said Ashley Stacy, who starred for Canadian women in Toronto.

“I remember the electric feeling when in the finals we played against the USA, and then watched the men play in Argentina. It was a busy journey with the highest highs and lowest lows. ”

WATCH | Canadian women are hunting for gold 7 in Tokyo:

After winning bronze in the sports debut in Rio 2016, a team of Canadian women rugby women seeks to consolidate this success. 1:37

Stacy, who played rugby since 10th grade in Lethridge, Alta, twice became a Canadian player at the university, while Pronhorns held three national championships. She also helped Canada win silver at the 2013 FIFA World Cup in Moscow and survived a shoulder operation ahead of the Pan Am games, as well as a torn ACL six months before Rio, which nearly made her miss the Olympics.

She thanks the success of the Canadian women when they reached the biggest spectacle of all, for deciding to centralize in Langford, DC, during the four years leading up to the Games.

“Training in our centralized program was amazing, but at the same time very difficult, and I have not found anything like it since retiring,” recalls Stacy, who played her last game in 2017 and now owns a large horned ranch cattle west of Saskatoon. Sask., With husband Sean.

“Working with like-minded people to achieve the same goal and pushing each other to become the absolute best you can be every day was a highlight for me. On the other hand, it was very competitive. This is a delicate situation trying to keep it. ” Great balance between teammate and competitor. “

Building popularity in Canada

In Rio, Canadian women got together and lost just two matches during the three-day tournament. One was in the UK in a billiard game, and the other was in the semifinals, as they were beaten by possible gold medalists from Australia.

Canadians bounced to defeat Britain 33-10 and get a bronze medal. It was a joyous holiday and a cherished scene when the captain, Jen Kish, was pulled into the stands by her exultant father Steve, who took photographs everywhere.

“She was sure that they were delighted that people fell in love with this sport,” said Mitch Peacock, who called the CBC rugby sevens in the play, talking about his conversation with Kish before the Olympics. ,

“Kish also said that the party believes that Rio is a suitable stage for raising the bar for sports in Canada, and she liked the idea that the whole country should be behind them.”

WATCH | Gislane Landry discusses the challenges of rugby training:

Leading scorer and captain of the women’s rugby team Gislein Landry shares his thoughts on what the Olympic delay for mature athletes means. 1:55

And it was the nature of the sport itself, which made fans admire. Rugby sevens see a lot of winnings, and each match can cause rapid changes in fate, where, ultimately, anything can happen.

“The pace, athleticism, physical fitness and decision-making of the players are striking,” Peacock calculated.

“Plus, with seven opponents on each side on a large surface, it seems that an attack is always inevitable, and the team rarely leaves it. A factor in 15-minute matches, and you can’t take your eyes off this. ”

Fiji strikes with unforgettable gold

For men, Canada did not qualify the team for the Olympic debut in Rio, although they made an assessment at the Tokyo Games. Nevertheless, it is worth paying attention to the victory of the team from Fiji.

Representing a tiny nation in the South Pacific with a population of less than a million people, the Fijians defeated their former colonial masters, Great Britain, 43-7 in a championship match to capture gold – and, in the process, won the country the first medal of any kind in 60 years of Olympic competition .

Subsequently, they provided one of the most cherished moments of the 2016 Rio Games, when the team gathered arm in arm to triumphantly sing the gospel hymn of victory with tears on their faces.

Fiji players and staff get together after taking gold in the men’s rugby 7 finals against the UK at the 2016 Rio Olympics. (File / Getty Images)

The Rugby Sevens in Rio caused a stir and won many new followers internationally. Nowhere was there the impression that the sport made a deeper impression at the Olympics than in Canada.

“I think the impact that we had as a team, having won the bronze medal in Rio, really brought rugby 7 at the forefront of Canadian sports,” says Stacy.

“I think it attracted the attention of the nation, and I believe that we inspired a whole generation of young women to want to try rugby. It’s really something special to pour your heart and soul into what you are so passionate about and then be able to share this love of the game with many people around the world. ”

Eighth edition Repeat Olympic Games It features playing the medal of the Rugby 7 tournament at the 2016 Rio Games, including the bronze medal of Canadian women and the gold medal won by Fijian men. On Saturday, May 9, at 15.00. ET will be broadcast as well as broadcast through the CBC television network. Check local listings for time in your area.

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