History of Rugby Sevens

Invented by the Scottish, perfected by Fijians (especially by a certain Mr. Waisale Serevi, see photo below) and dominated by the All Blacks, such is the story of seven-a-side rugby or Sevens as its now known all around the world.
No longer just a developing platform for the rugby nations emerging players, one has to acknowledge that Sevens has carved a space of its own in our sport, first with the appearance of the IRB’s (International Rugby Board) Sevens World Circuit, then with the growing interest generated by the Sevens Rugby World Cup and now with Sevens being the representative of a rugby re-entry in the Olympic Games in 2016.
It was in Melrose, a small Scottish village that David Sanderson and Ned Haig, a local butcher and Melrose RFC rugby player, had the idea to create a rugby tournament in order to raise money for the club. As it would not be possible to play several rugby games in one afternoon with a full squad of 15, Haig suggested reducing the match time and the teams composition for the tournament to 7 men. Thus rugby Sevens was born (more information on the differences between VII's and XV's here).
This 1883 event was an enormous success but it took some decades for this variant (very popular in the Scottish Borders, where they still play every year the oldest rugby sevens circuit in the world) to cross the border to England. In 1926 the first Middlesex Sevens was played (this London tournament is still played today) and in 1973 the first International Seven-A-Side Tournament to feature national representative teams was held in Murrayfield as part of the Scottish Rugby Union's centenary celebrations.

The tournament was a huge success, featuring the likes of Sir Ian McGeechan (the now legendary five-times British and Irish Lions coach wore the Scotland’s number 8 jersey), Fran Cotton (the England captain led his team to victory over Ireland in the final) and a star-studded Wales side that included Phil Bennett, Gareth Edwards, Gerald Davies and JPR Williams. Today dubbed as the first unofficial Sevens World Cup, it predated the actual first Sevens RWC by thirty years.

In 1976 the first Hong Kong Sevens was played and this Asian tournament is still today considered the best rugby sevens event in the world. Over the next decades tournaments sprung all around the world and nations that didn’t have a lot of success or recognition in the XV’s or fifteen-a-side game made their presence felt against the traditional sports powers. 

Starting in 1993, IRB decided that every four years the top variant national squads would meet, much like their XV’s counterparts, in a Sevens Rugby World Cup. The first, as it should be, was held in Murrayfield (at Edinburgh) and surprisingly won by England, who avenged their 1991 XV’s RWC defeat in the final at the hands of Australia by beating the Wallabies in the decisive game by 21 to 17 and taking home the Melrose Cup.
SEVENS RUGBY WORLD CUP – MEN’S EVENT
YEAR & HOST
CUP FINAL
1ST
VS
2ND
1993
SCOTLAND
21 – 17
1997
HONG KONG
24 – 21
2001
ARGENTINA
31 – 12
2005
HONG KONG
29 – 19
2009
DUBAI
19 – 12
Today rugby sevens is also played at various multisport competitions including the Commonwealth Games, the Asian Games, the Pacific Games and the Pan American Games. Sevens was played at the World Games (at the 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2013 editions), but this is due to cease now that rugby is again an Olympic sport, set to return to the Olympic schedule in 2016, at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.
SEVENS AT 
THE WORLD GAMES
GOLD
SILVER
BRONZE
2001 AKITA – JAPAN
2005 DUISBURG – GERMANY
2009 KAOHSIUNG – CHINA
2013 CALI – COLOMBIA
TBD
TBD TBD
From Lisbon to Paris, Sri Lanka to Singapore, Punta Del Este and Mar Del Plata, all around the world Sevens is played and countries like Portugal, Kenya, Argentina and Samoa emerged as regional powers of this game, fighting regularly with the other great Sevens nations after in the IRB formed Sevens World Series, a series of international tournaments organised for the first time in the 1999 – 2000 season, with the national teams competing for the Sevens World Series title by accumulating points based on their finishing position in each tournament.
irb sevens world series
Season & rounds
Champion
top try scorer
99 – 2000
10
New Zealand
(186 points)
Vilimoni Delasau
(83 tries)
2000 – 01
9
New Zealand
(162 points)
Karl Te Nana
(42 tries)
2001 – 02
11
New Zealand
(198 points)
Brent Russell
(46 tries)
2002 – 03
7
New Zealand
(112 points)
Nasoni Roko
(39 tries)
2003 – 04
8
New Zealand
(128 points)
Fabian Juries
(39 tries)
Rob Thirlby
(39 tries)
2004 – 05
7
New Zealand
(116 points)
David Lemi
(46 tries)
2005 – 06
8
Fiji
(144 points)
Timoteo Iosua
(40 tries)
2006 – 07
8
New Zealand
(130 points)
Mikaele Pesamino
(43 tries)
2007 – 08
8
New Zealand
(154 points)
Fabian Juries
(41 tries)
2008 – 09
8
South Africa
(132 points)
Collins Injera
(42 tries)
09 – 2010
8
Samoa
(164 points)
Mikaele Pesamino
(56 tries)
2010 – 11
8
New Zealand
(166 points)
Cecil Afrika
(40 tries)
2011 – 12
9
New Zealand
(167 points)
Matt Turner
(38 tries)
points
per
event

1st 22 points; 2nd 19 pts; 3rd 17 pts; 4th 15 pts; 5th 13 pts

6th 12 pts; 7th & 8th 10 pts; 9th 8 pts; 10th 7 pts

11th & 12th 5 pts; 13th 3 pts; 14th 2 pts; 15th & 16th 1 point

nOTE: HONG KONG 7’s HAS A DIFFERENT POINTS STRUCTURE
AND HAS MORE TEAMS INVITED (24 INSTEAD OF THE USUAL 16)