Golf and Rugby Return to Olympics

By Leroy Carter and Peter Simpson

Two of Scotland’s most popular sports golf and rugby union are set to return to the Olympics, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced.

The IOC voted to include the two sports in the 2016 games at their Congress in Copenhagen on Friday.

Gordon Mckie, the Scottish Rugby Union‘s Chief Executive, welcomed the decision, saying that “rugby will be given a massive global boost as a consequence of this decision”.

Both sports have appeared at the Olympics in the past. Golf was only played twice, while 15-a-side rugby was part of the programme until 1924.

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Youngsters such as Scottish Amateur Golf Champion David Law (pictured) can now dream of Olympic glory.

Rugby will be in the same seven-a-side format used in the Commonwealth Games since 1998.

Both sports will feature men’s and women’s competitions, and have initially been confirmed for the Rio de Janiero games in 2016 only.

Golf and rugby were selected in favour of karate, softball, squash, baseball and roller sports.

Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of the R&A, golf’s governing body, said that the decision was great news for golfers, as well as golf associations around the world.

“This is a very significant day for golf”, he added.

Mike Woodcock, communications manager at St Andrews Links Trust, also welcomed golf’s inclusion.

He said: “Scots of all ages can play (golf), and this move can only encourage greater involvement. This inclusion in the Olympics is great news.”

The SRU has pledged to avoid the problems that have dogged the proposed Great Britain football team for the 2012 Olympics.

Unlike in football, there is a history of the British national rugby teams collaborating, most notably on the British & Irish Lions’ tours.

Scottish 7s Coach Stephen Gemmell said: “From a coaching and playing point of view this will be the pinnacle for everyone involved in the game.

“We will aim to give Scottish players the best possible chance of experiencing the Olympic Games in a GB team.”

Gemmell’s comments echo those of IRB chief executive Mike Miller, who told the IOC that a combined British rugby team “would not be an issue”.

The addition of the sports is the first change to the Olympic programme since taekwando and the triathlon were added in 2000.