May 25 - Several more leading international rugby players, including South Africa's Jean de Villiers (pictured), have backed the sport's bid to regain its place in the 2016 Olympics after 92-year absence.
De Villiers started his international career on the International Rugby Board Sevens stage in 2002 and has developed into one of the world's leading centres.
He said: “I am definitely all for the introduction of Rugby Sevens into the Olympic Games.
“I would be one of the first players to admit that it would be great for rugby players to one day end their career with an Olympic Games and World Cup gold medal to their name.
“The sevens game is both exciting and fun, easy to watch and understand and will be a great attraction at the Olympic Games.
"Rugby Sevens has become one of the most exciting spectacles on the annual sporting calendar and while the game has grown around the world, the competitiveness of the various countries competing on the Sevens circuit has exploded.
“What sport fans want to see is entertainment and I believe Rugby Sevens will give Olympic spectators exactly that.”
Fellow South African Fabian Juries, who is one of the leading try-scorers of all-time in IRB Sevens history with 173, echoed De Villiers’ sentiments and joined the likes of compatriot Bryan Habana, Jonah Lomu, Agustin Pichot, Lawrence Dallaglio, Cheryl Soon and Anastassiya Khamova in supporting the IRB’s campaign.
He said: “Rugby Sevens has so much to offer and will definitely add to the spectacle of the Olympic Games.
“The various sevens tournaments around the world have all turned into successful events and while it is a fantastic form of the game for rugby players, it is also an enjoyable sport for spectators – those who have knowledge of Rugby and those new to the game as well. It has a great ability to attract new audiences.”
The South African pair were also backed by Scotland's Thom Evans (pictured).
He said: “Sevens at the Olympic Games is something a lot of people would like to see.
"To play on the world's greatest sporting stage for any player would be amazing," he said.
Evans believes that the fast-paced nature of the game will excite Olympic crowds around the globe, reaching out to new young audiences as it already does on the IRB Sevens World Series.
He said: “It would be a great thing if sevens were to be part of the Olympics.
"It’s one of the most exciting games you can watch and is a great family day out.
“You have to be fast and very fit, some of the fittest players in the world play sevens. If you look at the best players in the world, many have played sevens and I know that I speak for all my team mates when I say that we would be proud to call ourselves Olympians.
“Sevens is just so exciting because of the space you get and the amount of tries scored.
"It’s something you never take your eyes off when you’re watching and it’s something which I think would be a fantastic addition to the Olympic Games."
Evans also believes that it would be the ultimate accolade to win an Olympic medal playing for your country in front of a television audience of billions.
He said: “It would just be unbelievable.
"Because sevens is a only a seven-man game you need to have that extra bit of trust in that man inside and outside of you.
"There would be no greater sense of achievement to win an Olympic medal at, like I said, the greatest sporting event in the world.”
Rugby last appeared in the Olympics at Paris in 1924 when the gold medals was won by the United States.
Rugby is one of seven sports hoping to win election to the 2016 Olympics.
The others are baseball, golf, karate, roller sports, softball and squash.