Rugby sevens is sanctioned by the International Rugby Board (IRB), and is played under substantially the same rules and on a field of the same dimensions as the 15-player game. While a normal rugby union match lasts upwards of 80 minutes, a normal rugby sevens match lasts approximately 15 minutes (allowing for the one-minute halftime break, injury time and so forth). Competition finals last somewhat more than 20 minutes; each half in a competition final is ten minutes instead of the normal seven minutes. (In the IRB Sevens World Series, only the Cup final, which determines the overall winner of an event, is played with 10-minute halves; all finals for lower-level trophies are played with normal 7-minute halves.) This allows rugby tournaments to be completed in a day or a weekend. However, sevens scores are generally comparable to union scores; scoring occurs with much greater regularity in sevens, since the defenders are more spaced out than in rugby union. Scrums still exist within sevens, composed of just three players from each team. Given the speedy nature of the game, players are usually either from the backline or the trio of loose forwards in fifteens rugby.
Rugby sevens was initially conceived by Ned Haig, a butcher from Melrose, Scotland as a fundraising event for his local club in 1883. The first ever sevens match was played at the Greenyards, where it was well received. The largest sevens tournament in the world is the Rosslyn Park Schools tournament, with an attendance of over 3,000 schoolchildren from around the world. Rugby Sevens specialists Wellington College have dominated the rugby sevens festival winning 6 times out of the last 9 years with a five year unbeaten spell between 1998-2003. Results from the tournament can be seen on The Schools' Rugby Website. The first ever officially sanctioned international tournament occurred at Murrayfield as part of the "Scottish Rugby Union's celebration of rugby" centenary celebrations in 1973. Due to the success of the format, the ongoing Hong Kong Sevens was launched three years later. In 1993, the Rugby World Cup Sevens, in which the Melrose Cup is contested, was launched. Two of the best known sevens competitions are the Hong Kong Sevens and Dubai Sevens, which now make up parts of the IRB Sevens World Series.
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