Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

This is Rugby Union, but not as we know it.

Posted on 24 October 2019 by Thomas Clark

RugbyX is coming to town, and with it some of the biggest names in the game.

The new 5-a-side, full contact, fast and furious version of rugby is aiming to make the same impact T20 cricket had on the world of sport.


Photo courtesy of RugbyX


Looking at some of the star players and coaches involved, it is easy to see how these lofty ambitions might be achieved.

England legend Danny Care coaches the iconic Barbarians. His squad includes many of the most decorated players in the history of Sevens Rugby, five of whom are Olympic gold medal-winning Fijians. 

Photo courtesy of RugbyX

Also present in the men’s competition will be former Rugby World Cup Sevens champions England, Ireland, Argentina, USA and France. Each squad containing the best of their countries sevens players hoping to win the inaugural RugbyX title.

Lining up for the USA, is Carlin Isles, the ‘fastest rugby player in the world’. The stand out name in the Irish squad is, Greg O’Shea. The fly-half will be making his first appearance at a major, international, rugby event since winning ITV reality show, Love Island.

In the women’s competition, Olympic hero Abbie Brown leads out the experienced English side, alongside Commonwealth Games bronze medalists Heather Fisher and Deborah Fleming. 

Aiming to win in front of the home crowd will be no easy feat. The English will face strong opposition in France, Ireland and the number one ranked side in sevens rugby USA.

Photo courtesy of RugbyX

How will it work?

RugbyX matches are 5v5 and take place over 10 minutes, with no half-time.

Other rule changes to look out for are:

  • Line-outs are replaced by quick throws
  • There are three-person scrums – hooking but no pushing
  • There are chip kicks but no box kicks, with a maximum kick height of 10m
  • Five points for a try
  • No conversions, drop goals or penalty goals
  • No touch kicking – tap and go penalties
  • Drawn matches are settled by one-on-one

The “one-on-one” will see one attacking player from Team A receive the ball 30m from the opposition goal line, with one defender from Team B on his/her defensive 5m line. If Team A scores, and Team B fails to score, Team A wins the match and vice versa.


Photo courtesy of RugbyX

From Fiji to London via Rio

Technical Director and 2016 Olympic gold medal winning coach Ben Ryan, said: “We are excited with the standard of players that teams have selected for the first RugbyX tournament. It shows that unions are eager to put in a strong performance and players really want to try the new format especially inside the OArena. As promised, fans can expect an elite level of performance with some of the best Sevens players from across the world”.

RugbyX will be at the O₂Arena, London on Tuesday 29 October (Photo courtesy of RugbyX)



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