The last time rugby was played in the Olympics the year was 1924. Today in Rio, rugby returns to the Olympics. The form is different but the ethos of the game remains the same. After two years of qualifications, the gold medals will be decided at Deodoro Stadium.
So how does it all breakdown? The women will compete from August 6-8 and the men will compete from August 9-12. Each competition will be compromised of twelve teams: the top four teams from the 2014-15 World Rugby Sevens Series, six regional qualifiers, one repechage nation and hosts Brazil. There will be three teams with the top ranked teams automatically advancing and the next best five teams making the knockout rounds.
Team USA will be defending the gold medalist after winning in 1920 and 1924. Amongst the ranks of the two victorious Team USA squads were 13 Stanford graduates. In 1924 final, Stanford ruggers accounted for eight of the fifteen to take the field. In Rio 2016, the game will look a little different with the abbreviated Rugby Sevens being contested by both men and women.
The Stanford Rugby tradition will continue in Rio 2016, Vix Folayan (’06) will be one of the game breaks for Team USA Women’s Sevens. Folayan started playing rugby for the Cardinal as a junior as an integral part of the back-to-back Cardinal championships in 2005 and 2006. The track crossover started on the wing, but shifted to flanker to give her more opportunities to show off what would become her trademarks: pace and power. After her graduation, Folayan reverted back to the wing as she played for the Berkeley All Blues, before moving to the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista as a full time resident athlete in 2013.
Folayan and her USA Women’s Sevens teammates will be in Pool A against top seeded Australia, Fiji and Columbia. The USA Men’s Sevens was also drawn in Pool A against top seeded Fiji, Argentina and Brazil. The matches will be broadcast on NBC networks.