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Rugby sevens a hit as Rio Olympics approach

Rugby sevens a hit as Rio approaches

GLASGOW, Scotland – The road to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic debut of rugby sevens took a lively detour on the weekend to the home of Scottish football’s Rangers.

It even declared a first-time Commonwealth Games champion.

Played before nearly 200,000 spectators over two days, the sevens tournament in a packed Ibrox Stadium featured family-friendly crowds, karaoke-style singalongs and appreciative players who thanked the crowd for their support.

On the field, it was all action with seven players covering a wide swath of field where 15 is the norm in regular rugby. Speedy backs offloaded or deftly moved their way around opponents to score as many tries and points as they could in two seven-minute halves, or 10 minutes each in the championship match.

The Commonwealth Games champion was South Africa in a huge upset over New Zealand in the final Sunday, winning 17-12. New Zealand had earned the gold medal in the previous four Commonwealth Games tournaments and had won 30 matches in a row.

Getting ready for Rio, rugby sevens is also on the calendar for the second time at next year’s Pan American Games in Toronto, where Canada is the defending champion.

– Associated Press