Rugby sevens needs to ensure it captures the public's imagination and "gets it right" at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in order to secure its future beyond 2020, it was claimed here today.
The warning came from International Rugby Board (IRB) chief executive Brett Gosper during the rugby sevens competition at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, an event for which 186,000 tickets have been sold over four sessions and which features many of the world's leading teams, including New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.
Gosper was joined at the home of the 54-time Scottish football champion Glasgow Rangers by IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset and both men stressed the need for rugby sevens to make as big an impact as possible when it makes its Olympic debut in Rio.
They also revealed that there are plans to stretch competition over six or seven days in order to maximise visibility and impact.
"For the Olympics, with the 12 women's and the 12 men's teams we are trying to stay as visible as possible we are so we are looking to stretch the format," said Gosper.
"It's not settled yet at this point and we are looking at a number of models that would probably keep us within Olympic viewing for about six or seven days.
"We may have the women's [competition] and then the men's [competition] but these are all in discussion just now.
"There is a lot of benefit from exploiting visibility of the sport over as long a period as we can."
The International Olympic Committee voted rugby sevens into the Olympics at its Session in Copenhagen in 2009 and it is guaranteed to be on the programme for Rio and for Tokyo 2020.
Gosper revealed that the IOC is due to make a decision in 2017 on whether to maintain rugby sevens on the Olympic schedule for 2024 and stressed that "it's very important that we get Rio right because we will not get a second chance to make a good first impression".
Frenchman Lapasset played a crucial role in helping persuade IOC members to vote rugby sevens onto the programme and he echoed Gopser's belief it is crucial that the competition in Rio provides maximum exposure.
Traditionally on the men's and women's Sevens World Series tours, tournaments are held over two or three days as is the competition here in Glasgow which is taking place today and tomorrow.
"We need to ensure that our presence on the field shows that sevens is a good sport and a fantastic spectacle for the crowd," said Lapasset.
"For this reason we need to ensure that we have the right format and to be visible as long as possible to put on the best event that we can.
"Rugby sevens is thriving.
"It is reaching out to youngsters across the world with a winning mix of world class players, breathtaking matches and fantastic atmospheres like we have witnessed in Glasgow today."
For both the women's and men's competitions in Rio, hosts Brazil have been granted an automatic spot in each.
In addition, the top four teams will qualify from next season's Rugby Sevens World Series and Women's Sevens Series and then there will be six regional tournaments to decide six more sides.
These will take place between June and September 2015.
That will be followed by a final repechage tournament in June 2016 to decide the last men's and women's teams to qualify.
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