WHEN THE Senior National Rugby Sevens Championship kicks off at the Panjab University grounds on Friday, the tournament will have the highest number of teams participating in it. With 25 teams from various states and affiliated units of Rugby India competing in the men’s category and 21 teams taking part in the women’s category, it will also be the first time that Chandigarh will host the championships. Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore will inaugurate the championship at the PU hockey ground at 11 am.
“The Rugby Sevens format has seen its popularity grow in India since 2010 Commonwealth Games. The number of teams in the Senior National Rugby Sevens Championship is a testament to it. The affiliated units of the Indian Rugby-Football Union from states like Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Odisha, Maharashtra, Manipur and Jharkhand will take part in the championship. A total of 21 teams will compete in the women’s category and the shorter format will also allow teams to play freely,” said Mahesh Mathai, Secretary General, Rugby India, while addressing a press conference in Chandigarh. While the Rugby 15 format sees the presence of 15-member teams facing each other in an 80-minute match, the Rugby Sevens format has teams comprising seven players facing each other for a 14-minute match. The Rugby Sevens Championship will also be followed by selection trials for the Indian women’s rugby team for the upcoming Asian Games to be played in Indonesia. Most of the players of the Indian women’s team, which competed against Singapore in their first International Test match earlier this month, will be competing in the championships.
“The format is played in the Olympics, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games too. It is different in terms of number of players and duration. This tournament will also be a platform for qualification of teams for the National Games in Goa next year. The top seven teams will play in Goa. We will also select a 12-member team from the 30 players in the national camp during the trials to be held next week for the Asian Games,” said Nasser Hussain, General Manager of Rugby India.