You probably read that headline and said, “No way.” But that’s not how Nigel Melville, boss of USA Rugby, sees it. As an ex-international he certainly knows the difference between sevens and the 15-a-side game, and he figures that the US could shine in sevens in Rio, in both the men’s and women’s comp, for a couple of pretty good reasons.
One, they have almost six years to spot talent and teach them the tactics. As he says, the men and women who’ll make up the US teams are in high school or are juniors in college right now. Many of them won’t have even seen a rugby ball.
But what a base he and his coaches have to work with – hundreds of thousands of athletes who’d give their right arm to rep their country at the Olympics. Recently, one male American teenager ran the 100 meters in 10.04. And there are dozens just a step behind him.
Same with the women – some wonderful sprinters who won’t be quite fast enough for the track. And sure you need more than sheer speed for sevens. You have to be able to defend, and you need a good understanding of the game. But that can be taught.
Bottom line is, the US could well field a men’s team in 2016 that would be the equivalent of Rocky, Pocock and five Habanas.
The Rio Olympics have already boosted sevens in Russia. And as the host nation Brazil – population 192 million – will field a team that could surprise. Likewise Mexico – population 106 million.
You think the talented youth of Brazil and Mexico will only ever play soccer?
With a chance to become an Olympian, it’s a whole new ball game.
Source: The Roar