|Rugby is played in more than 100 countries by 2 million men and women. (Getty Images)
(ATR) The International Rugby Board wants a seat at the Olympic table.
IRB’s Director of Communications Greg Thomas tells Around the Rings "rugby and its reintroduction to the Olympic Games is full steam ahead as far as IRB is concerned."
Reports surfaced last week during IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset’s visit to Argentina that the IRB would make a decision in October if they would make another attempt to be added to the Olympics. Thomas says "something may have been lost in translation" from Lapasset’s comments.
Rugby was last played in the 1924 Olympics in Paris. Several attempts to return rugby to the Olympic program have failed, most recently at the 2005 IOC Session in Singapore. The IRB wants the stripped-down version of the game -- Rugby Sevens -- to be played at the Olympics.
Thomas says the IRB is confident about its chances. "As far as we are concerned, we believe we have a strong case," he said in an email to ATR.
A full-scale campaign has been launched by the Board.
"Our new Chairman Bernard Lapasset speaks French, Spanish and English and has been holding meetings with Olympic representatives," Thomas said.
"We are producing a new brochure and a film to promote Rugby's case to members and we will be at SportAccord as always. We have employed Mike Lee and Vero to assist in our campaign. We have been confirmed on the short list for sports seeking a place on Summer Games sports program for
|IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset has been meeting with Olympic officials to lobby for rugby’s Olympic inclusion. (Getty Images)
the vote in Copenhagen next year," he continued.
The Olympics is the only major sporting event where rugby is not on the program. Thomas said Sevens is "in PanAm Games and looks like African Games will also follow suit. We are already in World, Asian and Commonwealth Games."
The IOC will make a decision about sports to be added to the 2016 program at the IOC Session in Copenhagen in October 2009.
All sports hoping to be added to the Olympics face a tough battle, as IOC President Jacques Rogge has said new sports will be added only if other sports are cut. Written by Ed Hula III.
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