International Rugby
Lapasset excited by Olympics potential
ESPN Staff
July 28, 2012
The Olympic flame burns at the London 2012 Opening Ceremony, Olympic Stadium, London, England, July 27, 2012
The Olympic flame burns at the London 2012 Opening Ceremony © Getty Images

International Rugby Board (IRB) chairman Bernard Lapasset believes the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London will have inspired a new generation of rugby stars.

Rugby will return to the Olympic programme at the 2016 Games in Rio with the seven-a-side form of the game having been recommended for inclusion by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) two years ago following a campaign spearheaded by Lapasset.

The sport last graced the Olympics in 1924 when the United States were crowned champions of a 15-a-side competition and Lapasset believes the countdown has now officially begun to its long-awaited return.

"Some four billion people around the world will have seen the opening ceremony last night, including, I am sure, many Rugby players," he said in a statement. "It will have certainly been aspirational and inspirational seeing all those athletes paraded in the Olympic Stadium. It will have whetted the appetite and many will be dreaming about what's to come in four years' time."

"We were not an Olympic sport at the time of the last Games in Beijing. We are now. There will be some pretty excited players watching these Games knowing that they will be there, rubbing shoulders with the finest athletes from around the world."

Lapasset was present at the Olympic Stadium in London to witness a spectacular ceremony that featured rugby imagery and action as part of the production. "It was wonderful to see Rugby action included in the ceremony. What a way to signpost to the world our tradition, our values and our excitement at being an Olympic sport."

Rugby's return to the Olympics might be four years away, but the IRB insists that "planning and preparation is on track, new nations are blossoming, participation is booming and the 'Olympic effect' is certainly inspiring Rugby players around the world".

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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