The seventh biennial FISU World University Championship (WUC) Rugby Sevens kicked-off yesterday evening with a spectacular opening ceremony at the Swansea University International Sports Village on Sketty Lane.
The ceremonies were proceeded by an afternoon rugby 7s tournament of local schools in association with WRU Hubs. After competing all afternoon, the schools were joined by guests to welcome the participating teams to Swansea and formally open the championship with the raising of the flag and the playing of the anthems.
The ceremony began with British University & Collage Sports CEO Vince Mayne welcoming everyone to Swansea saying; “ Rugby is very important within the overall sports programme in universities in the UK. The FISU Rugby 7’s have been a key stepping stone for many senior 7s players who are now in contention for Olympic selection for Rio. To the players, play well and Good Luck. “
After his rousing speech, the participating countries marched past the crowd with nominated players parading their flags. The teams were welcomed by Professor Steve Wilks from Swansea University, representing the LOC, many of whom had travelled great distances to compete in Swansea. He said: “ The diversity, culture and passion that you bring to this event will help ensure these Championships are an unforgettable experience for everyone involved”. Coleen Dufrense of FISU then addressed the crowd and said: “ Over the next few days we’ll be treated to high calibre competition. Best of luck to all the teams, compete hard, do your best and enjoy the wonderful Welsh hospitality.”
The Lord Mayor of the City and County of Swansea Councillor David Hopkins then officially declared the WUC Rugby Sevens open followed by the FISU flag being raised and the playing of the FISU anthem, the official symbol of the WUC being opened. The ceremony ended with Lenaig Corson of the women’s team and Patrick Kwok, Hong Kong Rugby Union taking the official oath to respect the championship and participate in the true spirit of sportsmanship.
The colourful and moving ceremony drew to a close with the powerful singing of Welsh songs by the Morriston RFC Male Voice choir.
The 2016 FISU World University Rugby Sevens Championships from Wednesday 6th – Saturday 9th July, being held at the Swansea University International Sports Village, are being hosted by Swansea University and British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS).
The international competition consists of 19 rugby sevens teams – 9 male and 10 female – from 14 nations, for three full days of rugby competition and a comprehensive cultural programme.
Globally, the Championships have been a breeding ground for future sevens stars, including current England Sevens Captain Tom Mitchell.
This biennial tournament took place for the first time in China in 2004 and has travelled the globe but this is the first time that it has taken place on UK soil.
The 2016 championships are set to welcome the traditionally strong rugby nations of New Zealand, Australia and the Czech Republic for the first time. They will add an extra layer of excitement to an already thrilling competition – one which has been dominated by Great Britain success in previous years.
The hosts will be aiming to see a repeat of the 2012 result when Team GBR Women and Men both won the WUC Rugby Sevens title making Great Britain the first country to win both titles in the same year.
Team GBR men’s squad, will be looking to go “back to back to back” and make it three in row – adding to their tournament wins in France in 2012 and Brazil in 2014. GB men share a pool with strong international sides Australia and Italy.
The GB women’s team will be fighting hard to win back their 2012 title after Canada pipped them to the post in the last tournament held in Brazil. They avoid Canada in their pool but have to negotiate challenging fixtures against New Zealand and France to progress to the finals.
Canada women’s side has won the WUC Rugby Sevens title more than any other team: an unprecedented 3 times.
The nations represented include: Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Namibia, Portugal, Spain, New Zealand.
The event falls under the world governing body for university sport – FISU and is one of 33 championships held across 2016. On alternative years, World University Games (Summer Universiade) are held – events that are considered second to only the Olympics.
Having played host to the 2014 IPC Athletics European Championships and European Touch Rugby Championships, Swansea University has an outstanding reputation for delivering international sporting events and also for producing some notable players and coaches including Alun Wyn Jones, Wales International Rugby player and Ospreys and Robert Howley, Wales International Rugby player and currently Wales team assistant coach.
The World University Championship will be delivered utilising the resources and networks of a number of partner organisation including Swansea University, British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) and the Welsh Rugby Union.
As a team training base during the Rugby World Cup 2015, the Swansea University International Sports Village’s high calibre facilities boast an international reputation utilised by the Canada, Fiji and New Zealand national rugby teams amongst a range of other distinguished sporting teams and athletes.
Swansea University have strived to turn the event into a sevens festival spectacular and will feature a School’s Day on Thursday, giving over 300 pupils and staff from local schools a chance to see world quality skills in action.
The Championships started officially with an Opening Ceremony at Swansea University on the evening of Wednesday 6 July. Matches are ticketed from Thursday 7 July – Saturday 9 July.
A fun-filled spectator village which will be available during the tournament where there will also be food and beverages on offer as well as a slide and face painting on Thursday.
All matches will be live streamed via www.youtube.com/FISUTV
Visit the event website: http://www.wucrugby2016.com/
Visit the FISU website: http://www.fisu.net/en/FISU-Rugby-3577.html
Tickets are £3 (Child) £5 (Adult).Tickets can be purchased at the gate or online at http://wucrugby2016.com/news.htm?id=19
The full three day schedule can be found on the event website
- Thursday 7 July 2016 16.31 BST
- Friday 8 July 2016 18.05 BST
- Swansea University, Tel: 01792 363686