Rugby Sevens made a massive comeback at the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics. It was rugby’s first outing at a Summer Olympics since 1924 it was by far the most popular ‘new’ sport added in 2016 and got global coverage. The addition of sevens rugby delighted sevens and rugby union fans alike, and helped sell rugby globally. Olympic status had increased the sport’s reach, particularly with women and the 18-24 age group. Indeed, the figures suggested that rugby outperformed other sports on the Olympic programme in terms of growth in interest after Rio 2016, with an average increase of 10 per cent.
Fast forward 4 years and the Covid-19 pandemic grinds the whole world to a halt and oven stops the Tokyo 2020 Olympics from going ahead. The Summer Olympics has been postponed until July 2021 and it looks like rugby sevens could be a casualty, especially in England.
The England (and therefore Great Britain) Olympic Rugby Sevens programme is possibly unique amongst all of the major sevens nations in receiving no government support. Back in 2014 the RFU applied to UK Sport – the funding body for elite (and especially Olympic) sport – but was turned down because, it was reported, UK Sport felt that the RFU was rich enough to fund the programme itself.
The positive benefit of this for the RFU was that it could maintain its independence about how the programme would be run, which also allowed the women’s and men’s England teams to continue to compete as England apart from at the Games themselves.
But the massive loss of income due to the Covid-19 pandemic has changed that.
“Our loss in revenues mean we are having to make difficult decisions on what we can continue to invest in. To ensure we have a sustainable RFU we have announced a proposal to reduce the number of roles across the organisation” – RFU
As of the 1st September 2020 – The Rugby Football Union has advised the sevens squads that current funding for the upcoming 2020/21 World Series and Olympic program has been cut.
This is pretty serious for both the men’s and women’s teams who compete in the HSBC World Sevens Series, The Commonwealth Games, The Rugby Sevens World Cup and forms a Team GB squad for the Olympic Games (which they qualified for in July 2019).
Right now both squads have face redundancy due to major funding cuts. However, the teams’ mindset has stayed the same. “We strive for Olympic Gold, we also want to mould and shape the future of our sport in order to build a dynamic, sustainable and successful future for England Sevens”.
To try save England Sevens, the teams have set up a big online fundraising campaign with PledgeSports to try fill some of this funding gap. They are aiming to raise over £100k and support has been massive so far with over £6000 raised in two days. The teams are offering some great rewards for their supporters, such as:
- Kicking session with Olympian Tom Mitchell
- Coaching session with Sevens Richard DeCarpentier
- Coaching session with Tom Bowen
- Join England 7s golf day
- And signed England Rugby Sevens jerseys.
Out experience in the past has been – when fans back their team, the magic can happen and we hope the same happens for the save England Sevens campaign.
You can support the team here – Save England Sevens
Current Mens Squad:
Dan Bibby, Tom Bowen, Phil Burgess, Alex Davis, Richard DeCarpentier, Will Edwards, Mike Ellery, Tom Emery, Harry Glover, Ben Harris, Will Hendy Alfie Johnson, Charlton Kerr, Ollie Lindsay-Hague, Tom Mitchell, Will Muir, Dan Norton and Ethan Waddleton. Find us on Social Media!!
Current Women’s Squad:
Holly Aitchinson, Abi Burton, Abbie Brown, Heather Fisher, Deborah Fleming, Sydney Gregson, Megan Jones, Ellie Kildunne, Alex Mathews, Jodie Ounsley, Celia Quansah, Helena Rowland, Emma Uren, Beth Wilcock and Amy Wilson-Hardy. Find us on Social Media!!