images of Rugby

Olympic Sports


Rugby returned to the Olympic programme at Rio 2016, when the Sevens format provided a captivating showcase for this pacy and thrilling team sport.


The aim of rugby is to convey an oval-shaped ball to the goal line located at the opposing team's end of the field and earn points for doing so. This is achieved by running with the ball, passing and kicking it. Rugby differs from other ball sports in that the ball must be passed backwards between players as they advance towards their opponents' try line. Much of the sport's appeal lies in the players' speedy interplay and total commitment.

Rugby's roots can be traced back to the sport of football as it was played in English public schools during the 19th century. During a football match at Rugby School in 1823, a young player named William Webb-Ellis suddenly picked up the ball and ran with it towards the goal. His act marked the creation of a totally new sport.

Rugby School gave the sport its name and developed its first set of rules. The Rugby Football Union was founded in 1871, and the International Rugby Board – now known as World Rugby – was established in 1886.

Today, different types of rugby are played around the world – rugby (fifteen-a-side), rugby league,and rugby sevens – with various competitions taking place.

Rugby (fifteen-a-side) was played at Paris 1900, London 1908, Antwerp 1920 and Paris 1924 with men's teams only, after which came a long absence until the sport returned in its seven-a-side format at the Rio 2016 Games. A women's competition was also held for the first time in Rio.

International Federation: World Rugby(Open in a new window)

Event Programme

  • 12-team tournament (Men/Women)


Intense action and crunching tackles

Rugby players

Rugby sevens is played on the same field of play as fifteen-a-side that dimensions are 100m x 70m. Unlike the fifteen -a-side game, which comprises two 40-minute halves, the period of time for sevens matches in Olympic games are 30 minutes. This includes seven minutes each half and two minutes at half time .

Method of scoring:

  • Try: When an attacking player successfully grounds the ball on or past the opposing team's try line but before the dead-ball line; 5 points
  • Conversion; When a try is scored, that team is awarded an extra kick at goal; 2 points
  • Drop Goal: When a player successfully kicks the ball immediately after it bounces over the goal posts, can be performed during opening play or from a penalty; 3 points
  • Penalty Goal: A player can opt to "kick at goal" when awarded a penalty, the player may place the ball on a tee on the ground and has 60 seconds to take the kick, players also have the option to drop kick the ball but this is rarely taken; 3 points

Teams consist of three forwards and four backs, and each team may nominate and use up to five replacements during a game. All players in rugby sevens must be skilful in both attack and defence, able to run quickly, pass accurately and tackle effectively to bring an opposing runner to the ground.


Countering the All Blacks' power and passion

Rugby players

A total of 12 teams will compete for medals in each men's and women's competition at Tokyo 2020.

New Zealand, known as the All Blacks, are the sport's traditional powerhouse. They have an overwhelming victory rate winning three our of the eight Rugby World Cups. Fiji rules in rugby sevens, having won the HSBC World Sevens Series and various other past competitions more times than any other country. Their playing style attracts Sevens fans from all over the world.

The Rio 2016 tournament provided something of an upset as New Zealand's men failed to win a medal. Gold, silver and bronze were taken by Fiji, Great Britain and South Africa respectively. Their women were runners-up to Australia with Canada finishing third. Will rugby powerhouse New Zealand regain the top position, or will sevens champion Fiji capture told again, or will another team emerge as champion? Many teams have a chance to win a medal this time.

As well as Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan, exciting and competitive games are expected at Tokyo 2020.



A scrum is formed with eight players from each team in traditional rugby. What about in rugby sevens?


A:A scrum in rugby sevens is formed withthree players from each team, to try to enable a rapid resolution to bringing the ball back into play as quickly as possible.

As of 1 Dec. 2018

Competition Venues

  • Tokyo Stadium

Olympic Sports

Paralympic Sports