The lowdown on Rugby Sevens

YOU might not have played it in school, but rugby sevens is about to become big news, not least because it is the newest inclusion in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Last weekend saw the final showdown of the current HSBC Seven Rugby World Series with record levels of attendance. City A.M.’s resident fitness expert Laura Williams caught up with some of the players. Here are the top quotes from some of the heroes of the England team.

James Rodwell, forward
The inclusion of sevens in the Olympic Games has helped the sport grow in popularity. It has certainly gained a lot of exposure; it’s a quick, fast-paced game. It’s fun and exciting to watch. You need to be really fit to play at a high level – if you start to feel tired, your reaction and thinking times on the pitch can drop off and be exploited by the opposing players. It is short bursts of play but it is incredibly hard work.

Chris Cracknell, flanker
Sevens is a repeat sprint sport and very high impact. We cover anything between two and three kilometres in 14 minutes and 90 per cent of that is done at 20 km/hr. Sevens is a weekend sport and you can train once or twice a week in the evenings on a social level. It is rewarding and your increased fitness levels will be there for all to see, so it promotes a healthy lifestyle. The training sessions alone are really punishing.

Dan Norton, fullback
A lot has been made of my speed [Norton is apparently faster over 20 metres that Usain Bolt] and that’s what I’m here to do: to run fast. It’s nice to be talked about in the same breath as Usain Bolt. He is rapid - the fastest man in the world. It gives me confidence. I’d certainly take him on but I don’t think I would beat him. I don’t get too nervous. We know there will be pressure as the home nation but we play tournaments around the world so we’re used to it now.

Tom Mitchell, fly-half
There is a huge amount of demand on a sevens players in terms of endurance. The thing that sets a lot of the players apart is being able to repeat speeds and repeat power because you don’t get a rest in between sprints. You have got to be able to regenerate the same power time after time. Having said that, As long as you are doing the right exercises, you can get by with short sharp gym visits. Obviously diet is important as well, you have got to watch what you eat.

Alice Richardson, fly-half
The interest in Rugby Sevens has continued to increase and that’s been really positive for the women’s team. Women's Rugby is one of the fastest-growing forms of the game, with over 200,000 women actively competing and 800,000 playing “leisure rugby”. If you haven’t tried rugby then I would definitely recommend you give it a go. I wouldn’t get put off by the contact in the sport. You can start of by playing tag or touch rugby.