Press Release: Rugby Reaches Out in Lausanne
The Chairman of the International Rugby Board (IRB), Bernard Lapasset, led his team today in presenting Rugby's case for re-inclusion in the Olympic Games to the IOC's Olympic Programme Commission in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Mr. Lapasset was joined by Mike Miller, Chief Executive of the IRB, Agustín Pichot, former captain of the Argentinean Rugby team and Anastassiya Khamova, one of Kazakhstan's top female players and a leading figure in the Women's Game. Bryan Habana, voted the IRB Player of the Year 2007, and a Rugby World Cup winner with South Africa, joined by video link.
Our team is very excited to be here today. We are looking forward to sharing our Olympic vision and setting out Rugby's unique attributes, which we firmly believe would make re-inclusion good for the Olympic Games and good for Rugby said Mr. Lapasset.
We are determined to keep driving Rugby forwards, to embrace new territories, to reach out to new players and audiences and inspire young athletes across the world. Indeed, while we count a membership of 116 Unions, we are committed to expanding the sport and its values globally and it is this aim that underpins our current campaign to secure the re-introduction of Rugby into the Olympic Games beginning in 2016, he added.
Pichot, a bronze medallist at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2001, said that inclusion in the Olympic Games would bring medal opportunities for new countries, inspiring the next generation of Rugby stars.
If Rugby Sevens was in the Olympic Games, it would offer Argentina the chance of further Olympic success. The same could be true for countries such as Fiji, Uruguay, Thailand and Tonga. Many other nations could benefit from greater medal potential but most importantly, it would also bring a new Olympic dream alive for those nations and inspire young people to embrace the Olympic world.
Rugby World Cup 2007 winner Habana, speaking on a video link before South Africa's Test against Scotland this weekend, addressed the members of the Commission, stating: I have spoken with many of my fellow top players and each one agrees that competing at the Olympic Games would be an amazing experience. We would all be there and would be proud to call ourselves Olympians. I hope that you think we would be a positive addition to your Programme and that the players and all those in Rugby would strengthen and support the Olympic Movement.
Khamova, a lynchpin of the Kazakhstan Sevens team, said that participation in an Olympic Games Rugby Sevens tournament would provide the impetus for the further growth of Women's Rugby.
Women's Rugby is well-established and in excellent health. The number of players is growing, as is the number of countries worldwide with women's teams and last year at an event in London, I was one of 32 administrators and senior players at the first ever international conference on Women's Rugby. Every single one of us agreed that Sevens in the Olympic Games would be the greatest catalyst to the growth of the women's game and the best thing that could possibly happen to our Sport.
Mr. Miller said: We know we must deliver for the future. In bringing new audiences to the Games, in helping every National Olympic Committee to develop their Sevens team and in working with others to share knowledge and to benefit from one another's experience. Rugby is reaching out. We want to spread our spirit and sport to new countries and see more players and more women players in every single country.
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