Ben Ryan, Fiji's Olympic Sevens gold medal-winning coach, has announced details of a radical plan to bring five-a-side rugby to indoor arenas with a top-billing event featuring men's and women's international players due to launch the RugbyX project in front of a 12,000 crowd at the O2 Arena in London on October 29th.
The concept has the backing of World Rugby and is an attempt to draw a new audience to the sport at the elite end of the game while also attracting players at grassroots and inner-city schools level.
The format is deliberately simple with five players in each team, playing full contact in ten minute matches with no half-time. There are no lineouts, no restarts and no conversions of tries. There will be uncontested scrums and rolling substitutions.
The O2 launch will feature six men's teams and four women's with the likelihood that the make-up of those sides will be drawn from the pool of Sevens players who have been taking part in the HSBC World series throughout the year.
World Rugby have given the venture its backing as an adjunct to what is already in place in the 15s and Sevens arenas. The Rugby World Cup will be coming to a conclusion in Japan and organisers will hope to be able to tap into the levels of interest aroused by the tournament.
The laws of RugbyX are as per conventional rugby with the following exceptions:
*The pitch is 32m x 55m
*5 players per team
* 10 mins per match with no half time
* Rolling substitutes
* Uncontested 3 person scrums
* No line outs – the ball is returned to play by an "active substitute" (one for each team is positioned on each sideline) who is carrying a ball
* No conversions
* Post try restarts from the goal line not half way line
* Matches will be refereed by a team of RFU-certified officials from the Professional Game Match Officials Team (PGMOT)