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Mandy Marchak: Transitioning from 7s to 15s

Mandy Marchak on the attack

As the 7s season comes to a close, most players like myself now face the difficulty of leaving the summer behind and transitioning into the 15s season.

I personally think that 7s and 15s are two completely different games!

You can find my own experiences and difficulties transitioning to 15s this season below.


Here is a very brief comparison of the two games:

7s: 12 players on a team, 7 on the pitch during play, two 7 minute halves to make up a very quick and exciting 14 minute game.

15s: 22 players in a team, 15 people on the pitch during play, two 40 minute halves which make up a very long 80 minute game.

Another big difference between the two games is that 15s tours usually happen over approximately a two-week period, and a 7s tournament can be held over one weekend.


One year ago I would have never even considered 80 minutes of rugby long. These days after the 7s season, I feel like the first 40 minute half takes a life time!

I have not played a 15s game since I left London last December to conclude the first half of the Premiership season. After that, I had duties to return to Canada to be a part of our very first centralization program.

Now with that came training 5-6 days a week, which was very 7s specific with small sided games and not a whole lot over 14 minutes of work at a time. A lot of our fitness included tempo and sprints along with the occasional conditioning session. This training went on for the first 5 months of the year.

With 7s you are targeting a different energy system then 15s would. I don’t claim to know a lot about the body, so I wont get into it that much, but I do know that both 7s and 15s maximize two different energy systems.

All this being said, for 5 months we trained a very specific system that would benefit our performance as 7s athletes. In August Canada held a 7s/15s East vs. West camp. That camp consisted of one day of 7s games, a 15s East vs West game and then one more day of 7s games.

In my head I was prepared for this, all of it. I’m not going to lie though, I was a bit concerned about how that 15s game would go considering I had not played 15s since last December! After all, I had been training my body to be the best 7s player I could be in every way.

My fears were that I had forgotten how to play 15s. I was concerned, and had no idea, if my body could physically make it through 80 minutes of rugby.

Of course I hadn’t forgotten, and of course I could play 80 minutes, but not training for 15s in any way, that was my thought process!

Come game day it was all about going out and playing to the best to my ability. I was there for a reason, I said to myself. I have to be able to play, right?!

In the end, the outcome of the 15s match was good! It was definitely the hardest 80 minutes I had played in my lifetime. Hands down the most physically and mentally challenging situation I had been involved in for a while.

But moving forward my biggest focus and challenge is trying to maintain a balance between the needs of 7s and the 15s game. With Dubai 7s coming up, and the beginning of our 15s season, maintaining the 7s fitness and skills that I have worked so hard to obtain over the past 7 months is very important. I hope to do all this while I still pursue my goals to become a great 15s player.


The transition between the two are manageable. They require the same skills, but differ in the way we use them in the game plan. Let me tell you, after a 7s season, stepping on the pitch with 15 girls feels really crowded! Not a lot of space to run, and a little bit more standing around waiting.

Both amazing games, but with 7s now an Olympic sport, I think you will find that 7s will start to attract a lot more women who are interested in a fast paced game of rugby!

Please let us know about your transition experience. Comment below!

By: Mandy Marchak, Canada Sevens International

About Mandy Marchak

Mandy Marchak is one of Canada's most successful rugby players. She has been involved in many tours with both the Canadian women’s 15s and 7s teams, including the 2009 7s World Cup in Dubai and the 2010 15s World Cup in England. To date, she has 35 caps for the Canadian 15s team and 17 caps for the 7s team. She is also a Saracens player and enjoys playing social 7s with the Moody Cows and Storm 7s in the summer months. View all posts by Mandy Marchak

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