World Rugby has given its approval for a new five-a-side version of the sport with an international tournament likely to be held in London this year, according to a report in the Times.
The sport’s world governing body is hopeful the shortened version — Rugby X — can improve the game’s finances and boost its international appeal much like Twenty20 did for cricket, the report said.
Five more tournaments have been planned around the world for next year, with broadcaster ITV in talks to acquire rights to show the initial event to be held in London’s O2 Arena, it added.
The world’s major rugby sevens nations including England, Australia, Wales, Fiji and France are potential participants.
Former England Sevens coach Ben Ryan has helped develop the new format, where matches last 10 minutes and are played indoors on artificial grass pitches.
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Rugby X lays emphasis on quick gameplay and does not have a halftime break or change of ends, while action resumes from the defending team’s end after a try is scored.
The three-man scrums are uncontested and lineouts have been replaced by throws which will be taken by a substitute from the side which has possession.