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Olympics to be a huge boost for all rugby - Woodward

Former England head coach Clive Woodward believes rugby as a whole will benefit from the inaugural sevens competition at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

After a 92-year absence, rugby returns to the Games this year, though it will be a debut for the sevens format.

The 2003 World Cup-winning coach believes an Olympic return will be a huge boost for the sport, but suggested the seven-a-side game could overtake the 15-player format in terms of popularity in the future.

"Through sevens, rugby is becoming a multinational sport. But it's still not a world game like football, so it's now about how you take it to that next level," said Woodward in a report published by HBSC called 'The Future of Rugby'.

"I think sevens is this sleeping giant of rugby. I really think it can help develop the game on a world level. No doubt about it. Rio will be the springboard to take it global.

"Rugby will look back in a few years' time and know that the Olympic seal of approval was a big step forward in terms of the development of the game worldwide.

"It may overtake fifteens in many ways, if you think about the number of people playing, the popularity. I see that as a good thing, it's a simpler game, it's easier to play, it's less physical, and it would attract a lot more players."