If the International Rugby Board has their way, the sport will debut in the Olympic Stadium during the first week of the Rio Games.
IRB CEO Brett Gosper is set to go down to the Rio venues for a site visit after Christmas to convince the 2016 organizers that his sport can fill the short six-day window between the Opening Ceremony and when track and field hits the main stage.
“At the moment it is more than a hope, the Olympic Stadium has been ‘allocated’ to us and we are very excited and flattered by that,” Gosper said to reporters. “It would be fabulous if it happened. Such a wonderful venue at the Olympics says ‘major sport, mainstream’ straight away for rugby on its return and it feels like a huge vote of confidence.
“It’s a really good opportunity to set out our stall out in a meaningful way.”
Rugby is only locked in as an Olympic sport for two cycles – 2016 and 2020 – so it will need to convince the IOC that it’s a great spectator sport with international appeal before it’s up for another vote in roughly 2021. Debuting in the stadium, with the flame burning nearby, could definitely boost the sport’s profile.
Actually, why hasn’t anyone thought of this sooner?