To salute the opening of the Commonwealth Games on Wednesday, here is a poem about rugby sevens by Samuel Tongue, who teaches at Glasgow University.

It gives its name to a little anthology in which 17 poets write about different sports featured; copies of the anthology will be handed out free during the games; it is also in the kit bag of every member of Team Scotland.


No team may have more than seven players

on the pitch and each must believe

that their heels are aflame, that the bounce

of the ball is merciless, that the field is wide open

before it's closed by the lung-crunching tackle.

And the scrum must have three players

from each team that lock together like teeth

across the lines the ref guesses in the grass,

And when the ball spins out to the backs,

the receiving player must catch and sprint

through a rush of hot blood and adrenaline,

the ball held like a baby in the crook of his arm;

And after the side-step that shocks the last man to stone,

he must launch into flight and kiss the ball down.