Rugby sevens is hitting the big time, but followers of the 15-man game need not fear the kind of obscurity that Twenty20 has delivered to longer forms of domestic cricket.
This monthâs Commonwealth Games sees most of the best national teams in the world descending on Glasgowâs Ibrox Park for a two-day festival of abbreviated action – a far cry from the end-of-season sevens throwabouts of yesteryear.
Set to become a fully-fledged Olympic sport when it makes its debut in two years in Rio, the 12 English Premiership clubs and four Welsh regions will shortly contest a domestic sevens competition which has a major TV contract and a rapidly-expanding supporter base behind it.
The crucial thing for rugby is that the two versions have remained different enough to state the specific sporting thirsts of their respective audiences, who take each on their own merits.
Fully-fledged 15s devotees still relish the tactical grind and mental endurance which accompanies their 80-minute chess match, whereas sevens revellers arrive dressed up for the party expecting fireworks, wide open spaces and tries by the dozen in highly-concentrated 14-minute splurges.
Cross-pollenation between the two is becoming less, and the days of England packing out their sevens squad with Premiership stars seem long gone.
Players in head coach Simon Amorâs group for the Commonwealth Games are specialists contracted to the England team rather to any club, with specific conditioning programmes reflecting the need for lighter, quicker and more agile physiques.
Sevens is to rugby what pool is to snooker, and the rise of the shortened form of the game has, if anything, complemented rather than side-lined the full-fat version.
Sure, the interminable ad-breaks and gaping defensive holes may leave some traditionalists lamenting the disappearance of âwhat rugger is all aboutâ, but I would defy anybody to watch a game of sevens and not enjoy its sheer entertainment value.
Cynics determined to liken any other sport to football might well write it off as a five-a-side kickabout for toffs, but to do so is to miss the point entirely.
Rugby has evolved and taken a changing public with it – sevens an add-on rather than a replacement to what still remains a hugely popular 15-a-side product.
Premiership crowds continue to climb despite the inexorable growth of their upstart sibling, and the popularity of the World Cup and Six Nations shows no sign of waning.
Simplified laws and barrel-loads of tries make sevens an ideal entry point into rugby for those who have previously not given it a glance, and Ibrox will be buzzing when the tournament dominates the Commonwealth Games agenda on July 26 and 27.
Newcastle gets its slice of the pie when the Premiership Sevens makes its first ever stop-off at Kingston Park on August 2, and we would be foolish to look down our noses at such opportunities.
Sevens is here to stay, just as 15s is.
Mark Smith: Sevens rugby is no threat to the full-fat version