By Daniel Etchells at the Hilton London Metropole Hotel

Octavian Morariu, President of Rugby Europe, was speaking at the IRB World Rugby ConfEx ©Getty ImagesRugby Europe President Octavian Morariu has dismissed the notion the International Rugby Board (IRB) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have alternative interests in including rugby sevens in the Rio 2016 programme.

It is widely assumed that the IRB is partly using the sevens form of rugby at the Olympic Games to increase the worldwide popularity of the more familiar fifteens format.

By the same token, there is a perception that the IOC is only interested in the development of the sevens discipline.  

But, when questioned on the topic, Morariu, who is also an IOC member and IRB Council member, was clear that both parties are singing from the same hymn sheet.

"It's a common project in the sense that it's a win-win situation both for the IRB and the IOC," said the Romanian here at the 2014 IRB World Rugby Conference and Exhibition (ConfEx).

"The IRB gets the advantage of affiliating itself to the top sport stage, which is the Olympic Games, with all the benefits that are represented with them.

"For the IOC, it's exactly the same thing.

"It shows that sport is universal and all sports are universal.

"It shows that the choice [of rugby sevens at Rio 2016] was right.

"The fact that the Olympics are drawing and growing the game means that the IOC were right."

Andrew Ryan, Director of ASOIF, joined Octavian Morariu on the "Olympic Rugby Sevens - "Faster, Higher, Stronger" panel ©Getty ImagesAndrew Ryan, Director of ASOIF, joined Octavian Morariu on the "Olympic Rugby Sevens - "Faster, Higher, Stronger" panel ©Getty Images

The former international rugby player Morariu stood down as President of the Romanian Olympic and Sports Committee earlier this year after ten years in charge, following a spell as President of the Romanian Rugby Federation from 2001 to 2003.

In July 2012, he was elected as President of the European Rugby Association and last year became only the fourth Romanian to be elected a member of the IOC.

He was part of a five-strong panel which contributed to the ConfEx's session entitled "Olympic Rugby Sevens - Faster, Higher, Stronger".

The discussion focused on how rugby can make a success of the Rio 2016 Games and how the sport can ensure it becomes a permanent fixture on the Olympic Sports Programme.

Other participants in the discussion were Mark Egan, the IRB's head of competitions and performance, Argentinian legend Agustín Pichot, an IRB Council member, Rachael Burford, a Rugby World Cup winner with England, and Andrew Ryan, executive director of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF), the umbrella organisation for the 28 sports on the summer Olympic Games programme for Rio 2016. 

Morariu was keen to stress the IOC is very interested in the success of the fifteens' Rugby World Cup because "it's about the success of the game" as a whole.

Ryan backed this up by saying that the IOC would be "in there like a rocket" if it ever became apparent that the fifteens game was showing signs of decline or lack of growth. 

"You've got to choose the most appropriate discipline and sevens is the perfect discipline for this [Rio 2016]," said Ryan, currently a member of the IOC Programme Commission. 

"I was at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow at the sevens and it's just the perfect event for us.

"Fifteens was never going to be an option because you'd need so many days to play it.

"Even if you had a limited number of teams, you couldn't do it within the two-week period of an Olympic Games."

The five-strong panel was moderated by BBC World's David Eades (right) ©Getty ImagesThe five-strong panel was moderated by BBC World's David Eades (right) ©Getty Images

The former chief operating officer of the International Badminton Federation added that the development of both forms of the game ultimately lies in the hand's of rugby's world governing body.  

"The IOC's view on it will be that they will do everything they can to help the IRB but it's actually up to the IRB to manage the growth and the balance between the two," said Ryan.

"I think that came out clearly from the panel I was on, that people like Gus Pichot, and particularly the chairman [of the IRB] Bernard Lapasset.

"This is a genius stroke to get sevens or rugby into the Games.

"Now they have to use it themselves, and the IOC or ASOIF - nobody's going to help them to manage it.

"They've got to manage the benefit that they've got now."

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