We look at the first Rugby World Cup Sevens in 1993
irb.com and James Mortimer 13 Jun 2013 Getty Images
There are times when you have to thank the Scots. Not just Melrose assistant butcher Adam 'Ned' Haig for inventing Sevens, but also the Scottish Rugby Union for including an invitational Sevens tournament in its centenary celebrations 88 years later at Murrayfield in 1973. The IRB saw the potential for the involvement of emerging rugby nations and now the sport represents the most exciting path forward for the future of rugby in these exciting new Olympic times.
It was with all this in mind that the IRB, thanks to the vision of its then chairman, the late Vernon Pugh, embarked on a first Rugby World Cup Sevens at Murrayfield in April 1993 for the Melrose Cup. Twenty-eight nations entered the qualifying rounds across Sicily, Taiwan, Namibia, Spain, Hong Kong and Moscow and four teams joined the invited 20 countries for the finals.
1993: A World first
And so to Murrayfield came players of great renown in the 15-a-side game: Cabannes and Bernat-Salles of France; Howley and Neil Jenkins from Wales; Lynagh and Campese of the Wallabies and Springboks Joost van der Westhuizen and Chester Williams. But New Zealand looked best-placed, with their established Sevens elite of Eric Rush, Dallas Seymour and Glen Osborne on board. However, with Samoa having already upset the form book by winning in Hong Kong the previous month, it was no surprise there were further upsets in store.
Having defeated Australia, New Zealand fell to France; South Africa lost to both Australia and England; inexperienced Ireland - with Elwood, Johns and Mick Galwey - were shock semi-finalists, only denied a place in the final by a last-second try for Australia by Willie Ofahengaue - Lynagh's conversion making it 21-19.
England for their part had selected well and, despite lacking in preparation, had some genuine experience. Scrum-half Dave Scully of Wakefield was an inspired choice alongside a very young Lawrence Dallaglio, Chris Sheasby, Rodber and Cassell up front, and Adedayo Adebayo, Nick Beal, Damien Hopley and the prince of pace, Andrew Harriman, outside.
After overcoming a Fiji side boasting the great Waisale Serevi, Rasari, Rauluni and Rabaka, it again proved a winning formula in the final against Australia, with tries from Harriman (2) and Dallaglio steering them to a 21-17 win.
Lawrence Dallaglio on England's win
"It was amazing to be selected in the first place. I was playing second team rugby for Wasps, I hadn't broken into the England team and I was 20, which was very young. I was a lot quicker, I had a bit more hair, and I really enjoyed the Sevens.
"We knew we had a chance because we had Andrew Harriman, who was one of the fastest players in the world at the time. And we had good players who, whilst not being recognised on the world stage, were all very good Sevens players.
"We had an opoprtunity to ease ourselves into the tournament. We played Hong kong, we played Canada, we had a game against Samoa and it was pretty clear early on that we were a decent side. We had forwards who could run, we had pace but it got harder on day two when we put into another pool with New Zealand, Australia and South Africa!
"We were full of confidence by the semis and believed we had a genuine chance of going on to win the tournament and the thing about Sevens is that you can play against the best in the world and if you get your retaliation in early and get points on the board then you have a chance, and in Andrew Harriman we knew we had a game-changer. And against Fiji we scored a couple of early tries to sieze the initiative.
"It was great to be playing against the kings of Sevens at that time - Serevi, what a legend, and every player in their team. I even managed to get myself on the scoresheet - more through panic I think than anything else. I was running at Serevi thinking 'I'm terrified, but he looks even more terrified than me', so I managed to get round him and score the try and that was us through to the final.
"We played Australia in the final and they were a phenomenal side with Campese, Lynagh, big Willie O, Burke, so they were favourites but we were up for it and they were the one team we hadn't beaten at that stage. I remember them kicking off to us and it couldn't have gone any better. It went through every pair of hands, got out to Andy Harriman in his own 22, he stood Campese up, went round the outside and went the length of the field to get us off to an outstanding start. And before we knew it we were 21-0 up."
Australia came back to 21-17, but England clinched the first RWC Sevens.
"It's a great memory, a great moment in my career and something very special to be part of and I would never have dreamt of winning a World Cup Sevens and then 10 years after that of winning a World Cup in 15s, against Australia."