Sport

It's Rugby......But Not As We Know It

Paul Collins
Paul Collins

09:49 5 Feb 2019


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Little did I realise when I wrote the headline for this story that I would be taken down a wonderful internet worm hole researching it's origins.

It's from Star Trek.

A TV show that has developed a global cult following in subsequent decades since its initial broadcast in 1966 and a series that was repeated in Ireland for decades before the era of satellite and internet tv.

It spawned a pop culture phenomenon and it's stars William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy (RIP) became household names, even inspiring a chart hit by The Firm called Star Trekkin 

A hit in the 1980's, here's the key line relevant to this story.

In the intervening years there have been some wonderful re-edits to keep the shows memory alive.

Where am I going with this?

Global rugby bosses are bubbling up a new version of the sport.

So it will be rugby, just not as we know it. (Geddit?)

Rugby X, a radical, five-a-side version of the sport that could revolutionise its finances and global appeal in the way that Twenty20 has transformed cricket, has been approved by World Rugby.

The governing body has endorsed the format to be played indoors, paving the way for an international tournament in London this year.

Five tournaments around the world are planned for 2020.

Rugby X is another attempt to grow the game after last week’s talks with the unions in Los Angeles over forming a world league known as the Nations Championship.

The new format, featuring ten-minute matches on an artificial grass pitch built to the same specification as those used by Saracens and Newcastle Falcons in the Gallagher Premiership, will be aimed at a young, event-going audience but has also been designed to appeal to traditional fans on television.

ITV Sport is in talks about acquiring the rights to show the initial tournament as part of its coverage of the Rugby World Cup in Japan this autumn.

The RFU has agreed to host the first tournament, which will be staged at The O2 arena in London in October.

The world’s leading sevens nations — England, Australia, France, Wales and Fiji — are potential participants in an event that will feature men’s and women’s competitions.

Rugby X will become the first World Rugby-sanctioned short-form version of the sport in the modern era.

Sevens has been played intermittently since the 19th century before a World Series was introduced in 1999.

It was included in the Olympics for the first time in 2016.

Rugby X will follow the game’s traditional laws although some will have to be amended.

There will be no half-time, with the emphasis on a fast, dynamic contest.

Three-man scrums will be uncontested and lineouts will be replaced by a quick throw taken by a substitute from the team in possession.

After a try is scored, play will resume from the defending team’s tryline to ensure a quick restart.

There will be no change of ends.

If the initial tournament is a success, there are plans to expand, with Paris and Sydney both interested in hosting events.

Five tournaments are provisionally planned for 2020 and the intention is to expand to ten venues, which could lead to the development of a sevens-style world series.

The GAA has tried to modify hurling for a global audience so we will probably see many more sports redefine themselves for the future.

Its all in an effort to boldly go where they havent gone before, to live long and prosper.

I'll get my coat....beam me up.

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