Rugby X

In a bid to attract a generation of new players and combat a rise in crime from young people in inner cities, the UK has created a new form of rugby. It works under the same premise as T20 Cricket, so it is a cut-down, faster to play and easier to understand version of the sport that importantly can be played without posts. It will make its debut at the O2 Arena in London in October this year and will be supported by many big names from the game as reports.

Championed by Ben Ryan the Olympic Gold medal-winning coach, the game is a five a side offering that has been designed to have more straightforward rules and focus more on skills and tactics. He explained the vision and what the organisers hope to achieve when he was interviewed by BBC Sport. “It will bring new players and supporters into the sport. I see it as a really interesting variation on the game. If you look at 15s as being your five-day Test matches, and the one-day internationals being 7s, and Twenty20 being Rugby X; I can see that happening. We are not clashing with 7s tournaments or 15s tournaments. I see it as a vital tool that can help the 7s.”

One of the reasons the game is being developed is because crime, particularly violent knife crime has increased in inner cities and this seems to correlate directly with the lack of extra-curricular sports on offer, especially at state school which are low on time and resources. It is hoped by offering a way to spend time the rates of crime will drop as Ryan continued to explain in the interview.”It is a strand of the solution to what we are seeing going on as far as the increase in crime and knife-crime. Give people something to do, give them an interest, give them playing a sport that espouses all the values around teamwork, and togetherness, and understanding, and mutual respect.”

In order to make it a more accessible version of the game, and hopefully create the spark needed for players to push on and develop further with the full game, there is no need for a big pitch and posts. It will be showcased at the event in October, and it is hoped that because international 7’s players will be involved there will be interest from fans who watch Rugby League or Rugby Union. It is being held specifically to coincide with the Rugby World Cup and will be shown at peak viewing times to capture as many people as possible.

With further support from the group schools and other youth associations across the country will be encouraged to start teams and get playing. It offers the chance to learn the critical skills needed for the full game but in a smaller environment, although crucially it is still a contact sport. “We’ve done our trials. There will be injuries – it is a contact sport – but the trials have been really positive. We are tweaking things as we go along, but ultimately it is going to be a sport that will support player welfare and reduce injury. There is going to be a risk with any start-up, but we are pretty sure it is going to catch.”