World Rugby has approved a radical new format of the game which is set to be given a trial run at an event in London later this year.
Masterminded by Fiji’s former Olympic gold medal-winning sevens coach Ben Ryan, the new format, dubbed ‘Rugby X’, is a shorter, faster indoor version of sevens.
The first Rugby X vent is set to get underway at the O2 Arena in the British capital on October 29, featuring six men’s teams and four women’s sides made up of international sevens players from around the globe.
Ryan suggested to BBC Sport that the five-a-side version of the code could revolutionise the sport by boosting participation numbers at the grassroot levels, as well as the potential of attracting a new audience, and compared the new format to Twenty20 cricket.
“That’s the plan. If you look at XVs as being your five-day test matches, and the one-day internationals being sevens, and Twenty20 being Rugby X; I can see that happening,” Ryan said.
“We are not clashing with sevens tournaments or 15s tournaments. I see it as a vital tool that can help the sevens.”
Rugby X consists of teams of five playing full contact, 10-minute long games with no half-time break, no lineouts, no re-starts and no conversion of tries, while scrum are uncontested.
“It is going to be a little more like an NBA game, where in every moment of dead time, supporters are going to be entertained,” Ryan added.
“I was when the Knicks were playing the Wizards (at the O2 Arena), and it was a sell-out and was loud and noisy and amazing.
“There is going to be lights and music, and international Olympic athletes. It is just going to be a great event and a lot of fun.”
‘Rugby X’ – how it works
- Played on a pitch 32m x 55m
- 5 players per team
- 10 mins per match with no half time
- Rolling substitutes
- Uncontested 3 person scrums
- No line outs – ball is returned to play by an “active substitute”
- No conversions
- Post try restarts from the goal line not half way line
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