Thursday, October 15, 2009

Olympic Rugby

If you haven’t heard already, the reigning Olympic champions in Rugby, the United States, will have the chance to defend their title at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games in 2016. Rugby sailed through the voting process with an 81-8 win (with one abstention) at the International Olympic Committee.

This is great news for Rugby which has been absent from the Olympics since 1924. The Olympic format will be a Sevens style (7 players instead of the normal 15) four-day tournament involving 12 men's and 12 women's teams. Each country will bring 12 players to the games.

Congratulations also to Jacques Rogge, being overwhelmingly voted back to his post as president of the IOC. It can’t have hurt that Jacques represented Belgium in rugby! Jacques has said that rugby is a sport with a strong ethic. It’s a contact sport, but there is an accepted code you must restrain from injuring opponent, as such, it’s a sport of “utter control.”

For me, it’s even more than that. It’s a game full of the three “S”’s – Strength, Speed, Skills, where the better team usually prevails over the better individuals. It fits the Olympic ideals perfectly, and I’m hoping that all 96 countries which are members of the International Rugby Board will send teams.

Rugby itself will benefit from the increased exposure, and the glory of Olympic gold will be a powerful inspirational dream.

In 1924, in Paris, the United States beat France 17 – 3, and there was fighting in the stands and police escorts for the victorious Americans leaving the field. 92 years later, in Brazil, the atmosphere in the stands, and anybody who has been to the Hong Kong Sevens will tell you, will be celebration, no matter who wins. It’s Rugby, and it’s Brazil. Two of my Lovemarks come together.