Can Olympic 7s bring union and league players together?

Angus Boyle Roar Rookie

By Angus Boyle, Angus Boyle is a Roar Rookie

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151 Have your say

    Australia's James O'Connor, left is tackled at the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

    106 IOC members voted yesterday to include rugby 7s into the Olympic programme for Rio 2016. With the lure of an Olympic gold medal and the desire to see Australia succeed in the spotlight of the Summer Games, the ARU and Australia’s governing league body should make the best players from both sports available.

    Imagine the excitement generated from a 7s tournament in the weeks leading up to the cut-off date to finalise Australia’s Olympic team.

    Only one weekend every four years would have to be set aside from the NRL and rugby union calendar in Australia.

    24 teams could easily be fielded, playing out of a packed SFS, Homebush or Lang Park.

    Teams could be entered from the five Australian Super 15 provinces, the 16 (or more by 2016) Australian NRL clubs, an Aboriginal select, and two more from the Australian club rugby scene or other special select teams.

    Players from the already established 7s squad playing in the IRB’s World 7s Series could bolster the squads of the Super 15 teams.

    The tournament would be a smash-hit with the public.

    The ARU may not play ball over a Kangaroos-Wallabies exhibition, but the added playing strength of a combined union/league 7s squad for the Olympics would be a great incentive for the ARU and NRL equivalent to make this happen.

    There’s no reason why league players cannot make an immediate successful transition to union 7s.

    Three man scrums and two man lineouts would not be a problem for the league boys.

    Concerns over rucks and mauls would not be a serious impediment as history has shown that English rugby league sides such as Bradford and Wigan have triumphed in the Middlesex Sevens since union went professional.

    Cast a thought to the power, speed and skill of such a side if picked from players today.

    Inglis and Folau; Hayne, Giteau and Slater; George Smith and David Pocock against Nathan Hindmarsh and Anthony Watmough; and steppers like the ageless Preston Campbell, Quade Cooper and Kurtley Beale.

    But let’s not get picky. Each team would have star power.

    The match-ups would provide countless talking points for fans of both codes as their heroes matched each other one-on-one.

    Furthermore, a tournament showcasing the pace, skill and action of 7s would bring to the fore skillful players from outside present representative teams.

    In the quest for an elusive and iconic Olympic gold medal, the tournament would provide selectors a magnificent platform from which to choose a truly unified Australian 7s squad.

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    The Crowd Says (151)

    • October 10th 2009 @ 6:57am
      Firestarter Bob said | October 10th 2009 @ 6:57am | ! Report

      Yes, great. Why not let the soccer and AFL boys in too? How about Karmichael Hunt? How about our Aussie cricketers? I see them playing touch footy in their training warm-ups all the time. Andrew Symonds anyone?

    • October 10th 2009 @ 7:41am
      sheek said | October 10th 2009 @ 7:41am | ! Report

      The world doesn’t work like this.

      As if rugby union would invite rugby league players to participate in their team/sport. Also, Australia is the only place where this might be an issue.

      • Roar Guru

        October 10th 2009 @ 1:50pm
        Pippinu said | October 10th 2009 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

        Having just read the article, I was full of unbridled optimism, thiniking to myself: yes, why not?

        Until I read the first two responses!!! (with more to come).

    • October 10th 2009 @ 7:51am
      oikee said | October 10th 2009 @ 7:51am | ! Report

      Sorry mate, not interested, i just found out richie macaw won a commonweath medal for rugby, i had no idea they played rugby at the games. So as far as i am concerned, i could not care less about rugby at the olmypics. League has other mountains to climb. As far as i am concerned, playing sport at the olmypics is a backward step for league. Its to intense for a gimmac type sport.

    • October 10th 2009 @ 8:27am
      Shahsan said | October 10th 2009 @ 8:27am | ! Report

      Angus, it’s a good idea if it could ever come to fruition.
      As for the players you suggested, I don’t think Hindmarsh and Wartnough could play sevens. Ideally you need to find very skiilful, mobile forwards (such as George Smith) or backs who could play as forwards.
      If a composite Australian team were to be picked today, players such as Inglis and Mortlock might be the props, with George Smith as hooker, and the backs would consist of two playmaker types and two outright speedsters, so maybe Giteau and O’Connor/Thurston, and two fast men, of which Australia has many: Slater, Turner, Hayne etc etc.
      All must be good tacklers, although Campo managed to be the best sevens players for years without this particualr skill.
      Ps Oikee. Mccaw has never won gold at the Commonwealth Games; you’re thinking of Mils Muliaina.

    • October 10th 2009 @ 8:41am
      Dale said | October 10th 2009 @ 8:41am | ! Report

      The idea had occured to me as well.

      Australia needs to pick the top 15 Rugby players to win Gold.

      Choosing from 33 percent of tthe rugby gene pool means we are always behind NZ, England, and South Africa.

    • Roar Guru

      October 10th 2009 @ 9:22am
      Dogs Of War said | October 10th 2009 @ 9:22am | ! Report

      The NRL wouldn’t want to participate just because it draws attention to the talent they may have and they could see some players being lured away with a big paycheck. Doesn’t mean they will go well in the other code, just that money is hard to resist.

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