Ticket scrum for rugby fans

THOUSANDS of extra tickets for rugby seven-a-side matches being put on sale for the 2014 Games have led to a scrum among supporters.

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  • Both men and women of the Lions club can enjoy rugby's non-contact version
    Both men and women of the Lions club can enjoy rugby's non-contact version
  • Both men and women of the Lions club can enjoy rugby's non-contact version
  • Both men and women of the Lions club can enjoy rugby's non-contact version

Rugby coach Victor Francisco Suarez reckons fans want to get their hands on the briefs as quickly as possible, especially in the country that invented the game.

Melrose 7s is a legendary tournament among fans after its introduction in the Borders in 1883 to keep players fit in the summer.

And now a "touch" version which has no tackling, has spread among enthusiasts across the country.

Victor is head coach of the Glasgow Lions Touch Rugby Club, which he launched with friends.

The 47-year-old Spaniard said: "We set the club up seven years ago and now have 85 members.

"We field more than 10 teams of three boys and three girls, ranging from teenagers to the over 50s.

"It's a growing sport in Scotland and is now played in every region, but in New Zealand and Australia it's massive, which is why their rugby sides are so good."

Not having to make crunching tackles is a big attraction. "The sport attracts a lot of women," Victor said. "They come to touch rugby because it is a non-contact sport. There's a lot of men too who are attracted because of the non-contact element."

For many beginners and enthusiasts, touch rugby is a stepping stone. In later years some will progress to rugby union, where hard tackling is the norm.

Victor, a civil engineer originally from the Basque Country in Spain, has played rugby since the age of 18 and has developed into a top player.

Victor, who has lived in Glasgow for 20 years, played touch rugby for Scotland until Spain launched a team of its own. Victor has been a regular for the Spanish side since it started competing two years ago.

He said: "It will be very exciting because this is only the second time the sport has been part of the Games.

"It's also fitting, since rugby 7s was invented in Scotland.

"Tickets for the final I'm sure will be snapped up. They might not be snapped up so quickly for the other games, but there is such interest in the sport I am sure all the tickets will be taken."

Rugby 7s is growing worldwide in popularity, particularly in the US and Russia, following the decision to include the sport for the first time at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Victor also points to the success of the Scottish leg of the HSBC World Series Sevens earlier this month at Scotstoun, where Scotland were knocked out in the semis by Canada.

The Evening Times Community Champion for Sport said the tournament helped raise the profile of 7s just weeks before the 2014 Games tournament kicks off at Ibrox Stadium.

Thousands of extra tickets are now on sale but just how many is not being made public as Games chiefs refuse to disclose the exact number.

One thing is for sure. Victor and his friends may well have bought a fistful when tickets first went on release but the Lions coach reckons he'll be back for more.

gordon.thomson@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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