Commercial rights agency TRM today announced the completed team line-up and draw for the inaugural RugbyX tournament, to be staged at the O2 in London on Tuesday, October 29.
The new short-format, full contact version of rugby union was approved by World Rugby’s Executive Committee as a law trial earlier this year. The RugbyX tournament will be played on a 55m x 32m artificial grass pitch, installed on a temporary basis inside the popular music and entertainment arena.
Participating teams have been drawn from those who compete on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, alongside the Barbarians. For the first time both the Ireland men and women will be on the series this year, and both teams will also be part of RugbyX’s much-anticipated debut.
Anthony Eddy, the IRFU Director of Sevens and Women’s Rugby, said: “We are delighted to have both the Men’s and Women’s teams competing in RugbyX. It will be an exciting tournament with quality opposition.
“It provides our players with a new experience as well as valuable match practice. We are well aware there will be no easy games and we have to prepare well for the tournament and look to be at our best from game one.”
In the six-team men’s competition, Ireland will come up against hosts England and the Barbarians in Group A. France, the USA and Argentina make up Group B. The Ireland women face the USA in their semi-final, with England and France on the other side of the draw. Click here to buy tickets.
The men’s group stages and women’s semi-finals will take place during the 4pm-6pm afternoon session on October 29, with the 8.30pm-10.30pm evening session featuring men’s quarter-finals and semi-finals, the women’s third place match, and the men’s and women’s grand finals.
The core fundamentals of full contact rugby are being retained but variations of certain laws have been approved in to encourage fast and skillful game-play in an arena environment. There will be quick-tap restarts on the goal-line and no conversions. Lineouts will be replaced by a quick throw from the team in possession and matches will last 10 minutes with no half-time.
World Rugby Chief Executive Brett Gosper said: “The sanctioning of RugbyX marks an exciting step on World Rugby’s journey towards making the sport more accessible, providing an important entry point for new audiences to experience the joy, speed and skill of rugby in an indoor arena environment.
“Innovation is crucial to the continuing success of any sport and RugbyX presents a great opportunity to capitalise on increasing global interest in the days immediately preceding the Rugby World Cup final in Japan.”
TRM has led development the concept in conjunction with Ben Ryan. Harry Horsley, co-founder and CEO of TRM, said: “We are proud to have invested in developing RugbyX which we believe will bring rugby to new audiences in the spectacular surroundings of the world’s leading entertainment destination. In due course we hope RugbyX can become a platform to promote grass roots adoption of 5 v 5 rugby in the UK and globally.”