The 2016 Rio Olympics is sure to be one of the biggest Sevens events to date, with teams qualifying from all around the world.
The inclusion of Sevens into the Olympics has meant governments are lifting their funding and support towards their women’s programs ultimately increasing the calibre of play across the board.
The women’s Sevens is set to be one of the most hotly contested events at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Here are some of the players to watch out for.
Current world champions and World Series title holders New Zealand are a certain contender for the Olympic Games and would be the team to beat. New Zealand is a proud rugby nation and has proven over the years that it is the rugby heartland of the world. The Kiwis like to play a wide expansive game and utilise their speed on the wing to score tries. New Zealand has the ability to punish any team from anywhere on the field. They have threats all over the park in the forwards, play making spots and out wide so teams must be in the game from the first whistle or they will be behind on the score board before they know it.
Portia Woodman will be a vital element of New Zealand’s Olympic campaign. Her ability to beat a defender and make them look silly is exceptional. She has electric speed, enabling New Zealand to shift the ball early and let her weave her magic. A massive threat to any opposition, you give her the outside and she is gone before you blink.
Sarah Goss is the leader of the Kiwi sisters both on and off the field. Goss has the ability to get her team going forward, creating time and space for the likes of Portia and Kayla McAlister out wide to do their thing. She has a big engine and goes all day for the Kiwis on a consistent basis, showing her class in defence and her ability to break the initial tackle in attack. She is the key cog in the New Zealand Olympic campaign.
Team USA has had a reshuffle in the coaching department which would have undoubtedly caused some disruptions however, incumbent coach Richie Walker has got the team headed in the right direction. A strong restart team they have the ability to put teams under pressure from the restart often causing a turnover creating an attacking opportunity. Team USA are a well-structured team with strong physical players across the field and the sprinkling of pace makes them a team to look out for.
The selection of team Great Britain is still unclear however, it is thought that it would contain mostly players from the England Women’s team. Coming off the back of their first series win in Langford, Canada it is fair to say they are the form team at present. It seems as though they have started to put their jigsaw together and have become more consistent across the field. Under coach Simon Middleton they have started to build momentum at the right end of the season. Middleton has stated that they will be “serious contenders” which is no understatement if they are able to hit their straps at the right time. Every team must be on their A game against this experienced team GB.
Emily Scarratt is the skipper and back bone of the England team. She leads by example and isn’t afraid to put her body on the line whether that is in attack or defense. A very strong runner in attack with the ability to easily break the first-up tackle and get England on the front foot, creating quick ball to play off. Emily is the heart and soul of the England team and a key element to the success of team Great Britain.
Heather Fisher is the powerhouse of the England forward pack. Her robust and physical style of play is integral for England to gain attacking momentum. Fisher is a very strong and powerful player with the ability to break initial tackles on a regular basis. Her physical presence at the ruck often creates turnovers, generating additional attacking opportunities for England and making her a vital asset to the team Great Britain set up.
Fiji brings the unpredictable to the table - you never know what coach Chris Cracknell has up his sleeve. A team full of potential and when they are on they are on. Fiji has the ability to beat any team on any day if their opponents are not up for a physically challenging game. Their ability to score runaway tries is unrivalled in the World Series. They have their own unique style of play that is like no other teams and if you aren’t ready, before you know it you are behind on the score board. This team has the potential to beat any team.
Canada has consistently been around the top three in the World in recent years and I don’t see the Olympics being any different. They like to play a wide expansive game, however, aren’t afraid to keep it in tight one out of the ruck and physically give it to their opposition. With an array of talented players across the field they are a definite contender.
Ghislaine Landry is Canada’s biggest threat. Her ability to read the game is first class and her most dangerous weapon. She is quick, has a good kicking game and is a game changer for Canada. Landry is a points machine for Canada, consistently crossing the try line and kicking drop goals. She is an integral element to a successful Canadian Olympic campaign.
Jennifer Kish is the leader of the Canadian pack. Softly spoken and covered in tattoos but brings a physical presence to the field. She is a fierce competitor who puts her body on the line for the better of her team. Jen’s aerial skills are first class, a key element in Canada’s armory in regaining possession. Restarts are an integral part in the game of sevens as the scoring team kicks off, unlike fifteens. If you can get the ball back off the kick off you are straight back on the attack. She is the leader of the Canadian pack and an integral cog in their campaign.