It’s coming. Mark my words.
The announcement of a new worldwide club sevens tournament at Twickenham on 17 and 18 August involving teams from around the world should begin to sound the alarm bells for the 15-man game.
Four English Premiership clubs will be joined by the likes of the Blues, the Stormers and the Brumbies as well as teams from New York, Los Angeles, Moscow and Buenos Aires in a tournament format that is expected to grow year on year.
Nothing to worry about? Sevens surely can’t compete with the 15-man game – a sport with a 150 year history, with a World Cup and an established international calendar and with money pouring in from investors around the world?
To which I say one word: the Olympics. (OK, 2 words).
The inclusion of Sevens in the 2016 Olympics is something of a game-changer. The IRB World Sevens circuit has already demonstrated a globalisation of rugby that the 15-man game can only dream of with countries like Kenya and Portugal now featuring in the later stages of major tournaments. The Olympics will undoubtedly exacerbate this further as Unions decide that channelling funds into the shorter form of the game will prove far more beneficial than trying to break in to the traditional international rugby cabal.
Furthermore, the August tournament will be televised by BT Sport. Once broadcasters start to get involved all bets are off. After all, if you are trying to attract new audiences what would you broadcast – a colourful, fast-paced, exciting game with bucketloads of tries or endless scrummage resets whilst the referee glances admiringly at himself on the stadium big screen?
We need to wake up and smell the coffee.