San Francisco - World Rugby chiefs have declared the
"brutal" knockout format of the Rugby World Cup Sevens a success but
coaches have urged officials to think twice before using the same system more
In a break from tradition, this year's tournament scrapped
the usual round-robin stage in favour of a single-elimination knockout, raising
the stakes from the opening rounds.
Yet while the format change created undeniable drama, with
Australia a notable casualty on the opening day, some players and coaches
remain unconvinced whether the experiment should continue.
World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper said the move to
straight knockout had been a hit with fans.
"It played into the drama of the tournament,"
"We're getting a lot of positive feedback from fans
about the drama of knockout. It makes each game exciting. It can be brutal for
teams, but sport's brutal. What can you say?"
New Zealand coach Clark Laidlaw, however, remained
"I haven't changed my mind," Laidlaw said after
his team romped to victory over England in Sunday's final at AT&T Park.
"I don't enjoy the format," Laidlaw added.
"Ultimately once you're through the first day, every tournament is
straight knockout anyway. So it's not actually any different from a rugby
perspective. As a spectacle I'm sure everyone enjoyed it.
"But when you've got coaches and players' livelihoods
at stake, and the format isn't quite what we're paid to do... It's an
England coach Simon Amor, meanwhile, said that while he was
not opposed to the knockout system being used in one-off tournaments, he did
not support its introduction on the international circuit.
"I don't think it works in the series," Amor said.
"Because one game on one day is not really the nature of sevens. You need
a couple of games. But as a standalone one-off event it's okay."
England captain Tom Mitchell said the switch to single
elimination had been "interesting."
"I am not totally sold on the new format to be
honest," he said. "There are pros and cons to it - it is up to World
Rugby to keep mixing things up, keep it fresh and work out things that keep
improving the game."
World Rugby officials toasted the conclusion of a successful
tournament which saw 102 000 fans attend over the three days of competition.
The first ever World Cup event held on US soil will
inevitably stoke speculation over the possibility of the United States one day
mounting a bid for the 15-a-side competition.
While World Rugby has demonstrated a willingness to take the
tournament to new frontiers - Japan will host the event for the first time in
2019 - Gosper cautioned that any bid for the event would likely face stiff
"I think (the USA) is obviously going to be a destination
for the World Cup one day," Gosper said. "It's up to USA Rugby to
organise themselves and put forward a magnificent bid.
"There's a big queue of countries looking to host, in
the North and South Hemispheres. "We would love to see (the USA) put in a
strong bid and we know that they'd be capable of it."