Angry 7s skippers write to IOC president
June 13, 2005

The captains of the world's top 16 Sevens teams have expressed their outrage to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after one of the organisation's top officials made disparaging comments about the sport following a meeting of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) last week.

The International Rugby Board is currently pushing for Rugby Sevens to be included in the Olympic Games. A vote on the composition of the 2012 Olympic sporting programme will take place in Singapore in July. Rugby Sevens is on a short list of five sports for possible inclusion in the sports programme should the IOC decide to modernise the programme.

The comments made by IOC Executive Board member, Denis Oswald, who is also President of ASOIF (the sports presently in the Olympic sports programme) and the International Rowing Federation (FISA), upset the players at the final tournament of the 2004/05 IRB Sevens series in Paris last weekend. Their response was a unified letter to IOC President, Dr Jacques Rogge, on behalf of the 86 countries that have competed in over 20 IRB Sevens tournaments around the world over the last year, with the highlight being the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Hong Kong in March.

"Dear President Rogge,

We, the Captains of the 16 teams competing in the Paris Sevens, the final leg of the 2004/2005 IRB Sevens series, are deeply offended by the comments attributed to one of your Executive Board Members that Rugby Sevens "is something of a joke."

We ask that you publicly disassociate the IOC from these ill-founded, unwarranted and damaging comments which have been made about the sport that we all love and have dedicated ourselves to.

It is our belief that Rugby Sevens would be a strong and popular addition to the Olympic programme in 2012. We look forward to having the opportunity of representing our countries at the Olympics in the future."

The letter was signed by: Argentina - Andres Romagnoli; Australia - Tim Clark; Canada - Mike Langley; England - Simon Amor (IRB 2004/05 Sevens Player of the Year); Fiji - Waisale Serevi (Rugby Sevens World Cup 2005 Player of the Tournament); France - Julien Carraud; Georgia - Gorg Kacharava; Italy - Luca Martin; Kenya - Victor Sudi Simiyu; New Zealand - Orene Ai'i; Portugal - Pedro Netto Fernandes; Russia - Pavel Baranovski; Samoa - David Lemi (IRB Sevens 2004/05 Top Try Scorer); Scotland - David Gray; South Africa - Jaco Pretorius; Tunisia - Naouli Mohamed Ali.

All 120,000 available tickets were sold (40,000 per day for the three days) for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Hong Kong and the event enjoyed 160 hours of live broadcast coverage in 37 countries and an additional 40 hours of delayed broadcast coverage in a further 63 countries. Furthermore, 85 radio stations used the Tournament-specific syndicated radio network and there were 9.56 million hits over the three competition days on the Tournament-specific website.

The Paris Sevens were won by host country France who beat Fiji in the final. It was France's first ever IRB Sevens tournament win on a weekend that saw teams from four continents win silverware. The Shield competition was won by Canada, the Bowl competition by Argentina and the Plate competition by South Africa. The overall IRB Sevens series winners across the seven 2004/05 tournaments was New Zealand, with Fiji second and England third.

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