Barbarians FC among six teams vying for inaugural RugbyX glory

By Michael Hudson

The new five-a-side RugbyX format has received a major boost to its credibility with the famous Barbarians side accepting an invitation to compete in the inaugural tournament in October at the O2 Arena in London.

The Barbarians, an invitational ad hoc team and is one of the great traditions of rugby union, will be competing against international teams from Argentina, England, USA, France and Ireland in a single-day tournament. The winners of the tournament will be walking away with the first ever RugbyX trophy.

RugbyX is the brainchild of former Fiji Olympic-winning coach Ben Ryan who believes the new version of rugby can revolutionise the game at professional and grassroots levels. The five-a-side format is described as “fast and furious”, while retaining rugby’s “core principles”.

Barbarians chairman John Spencer said the team are renowned for their entertaining rugby and that they will be bringing their style of play to the O2 Arena.

“Since our foundation in 1890, the Barbarians have been committed to combining the best of attacking rugby with the traditions of enjoyment and sportsmanship for which our club and our sport is famous throughout the world,” Spencer was quoted as saying by Rugby Pass. “We are delighted to bring those traditions to this most innovative format of rugby at the O2 arena in London. We look forward to facing the world’s leading international sevens teams in this new fast-paced, five versus five format of the game we love.”

RugbyX’s technical director Ryan said the new version of rugby will be instilling some key principles and said RugbyX gives fans an opportunity to support their national teams in a new rugby atmosphere.

“RugbyX is bringing world-leading international sevens teams into Europe’s No 1 entertainment destination, the O2 Arena, for an adapted form of the game we love. RugbyX will provide new and existing fans with an opportunity to support their national team in a brand new rugby environment.

“At RugbyX we are looking to instil some key principles with this new format of the game which consist of teamwork, participation and inclusion.

“These values are the fundamentals of the Barbarians’ existence so to have them participate at RugbyX is just brilliant. Additionally, the wealth of experience and talent that the Barbarians have to select from will make them one of the strongest competitors at the O2 in October.”

There has been concerns about whether RugbyX will be a new problem rather than being part of the solution to the sport’s sustainability but Ryan is confident the sport will contribute to the latter. Ryan sees RugbyX as a vital tool that can help the sevens.

RugbyX will be played under existing rugby union laws in respect of foul play and breakdown penalties, but will include some law-trial adaptations in order to encourage simple and fast game play, including: five players per team, 10-minute matches with no half time, no line-outs and no conversions.

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