Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
8 August 2014
The men’s and women’s rugby sevens competitions at Nanjing 2014 will be held at the city’s Youth Olympic Sports Park on 17-20 August, with 72 players taking part in each.
Both tournaments will be contested by six teams with players aged between 14-18 years of age. They will feature an initial round-robin phase, with teams playing twice a day. Games will consist of two halves of seven minutes, with a two-minute break for half-time. Three points will be awarded for a win, two for a draw and one for a defeat.
The top four teams in the group phase will go forward to the semi-finals, with the top team playing the fourth-placed side and second meeting third, while the teams finishing fifth and sixth in the group will meet in a play-off for fifth place.
The medal matches on 20 August will feature two halves of 10 minutes. The day’s programme will begin with the bronze-medal matches, followed by the women’s final and then the men’s gold medal match.
Therefore players who step onto the podium at the day’s end will take their place in Olympic history as rugby’s first medal winners of the 21st century, and some of them no doubt will be hoping to repeat the feat when the sport begins an exciting new Olympic era at Rio 2016. [with thanks to IOC website]
On Eden Park on this day in 1966 the All Blacks beat the Lions 24-11 and completed a 4-0 test series whitewash.
These games have become an anachronism in modern rugby. ‘B’ internationals between second – or ‘B’ teams - of countries were played mostly in the second half of the 20th century. The British, Irish and French were the countries that mostly embraced the idea. For a time, some of the hardest games of each European season came in the international ‘B’ matches. The Wales v France ‘B’ teams, in particular, had some robust encounters between 1970 and 1989 when they met annually.
Internationals involving ‘B’ teams were never as popular in South Africa, Australia or New Zealand, though each dabbled with the concept of fielding a ‘second’ national team at some stage.
South Africa actually used to call its ‘second’ selection the ‘Junior’ Springboks. Australia fielded a ‘B’ team for the first time in 1988 when it met New Zealand. In 1991 New Zealand ‘B’ met Australia ‘B’ in Brisbane. New Zealand won an exciting match 21–15.
In 1992 England B toured New Zealand, playing two ‘tests’ against a New Zealand second team that was called the ‘New Zealand XV’.
Modern marketing phased out the concept of ‘B’ games. In the 1990s they were replaced by ‘A’ internationals. The new concept was a marketers way of enticing the paying public to believe they are not seeing second-rate players in action.
So the short history of ‘B’ teams came to an end. Ironically, this was followed by the decision of many countries, led by Wales, for economic reasons, to not even field an ‘A’ team any more.
Which Irish rugby player of modern vintage has the nickname of '36?'