Jason Robinson predicts league stars will convert to union sevens after Olympics
Jason Robinson has predicted rugby league players will begin to convert to rugby union sevens after this summer's Olympic Games, instead of its traditional 15-a-side format.
Sevens will make its inaugural appearance at a Games this summer in Rio de Janeiro, the first time any form of rugby has done so since 1924 in Paris, and its perceived success will do much to dictate whether it will remain an Olympic sport beyond Tokyo 2020.
The 2015/16 season is also the first in which there have been 10 tournaments across the Sevens World Series, an increase from nine in 2014/15, and the first time the women's game has been sponsored amid the sport's attempts to expand.
Robinson was one of the world's finest rugby league players before converting to union, at which he similarly excelled, but at a time when high-profile figures including Sam Burgess have struggled to match his success and consequently returned to league, he believes they will soon pursue an alternative option.
"I really see, going forward, those crossovers going straight to sevens, as opposed to 15s, because actually, rugby league and sevens are so similar, and less technical," said the retired Robinson, 41, who was speaking at the launch of HSBC's Future of Rugby report.
"One of the things some of the rugby league players don't like, is the scrums, is the lineouts, is the stop-start.
"They want it fast, they've got the skills, so I honestly believe, that with all the investment coming into sevens - sponsorship's going to grow, coverage is going to grow - there'll be more and more players thinking 'Hang on a minute'. This is another route they didn't even think about before."
HSBC last summer extended its Sevens World Series sponsorship deal with World Rugby by a further four years, and with the organisation's recently-elected chairman Bill Beaumont discussing reorganising the rugby calendar and moving the 15-a-side Six Nations to April, they also want sevens to be given greater respect.
"What I am urging World Rugby to think about in the context of the global calendar which is being discussed around Six Nations rugby championships, Lions tours, all the rest of it, is we want the sevens game to be given that same consideration," said HSBC's head of sponsorship, Giles Morgan.
"I would urge them, as an investor in the game, to get that calendar right.
"As a sponsor with an investment, it's in everybody's interests for us to push that onto the agenda, and I think those conversations will happen."