From Rugby World Cup to Olympic 7s

Several XVs stars are opting to push for the Olympic Games rather than the World Cup.

Samu Kerevi and Kelly Brazier aren’t the only XVs stars choosing to swap their XVs boots for a run at the Olympic Games in Tokyo this coming week.

World Rugby picked seven players who played in the last Rugby World Cup who now made the switch to the faster paced format.

KELLY BRAZIER

The bigger the stage the better for the poster girl of New Zealand women’s rugby. She is a Rugby World Cup winner in both formats of the game and has a Commonwealth Games gold medal to her name.

After finishing a runner-up in Rio in 2016, all that’s missing from her stellar CV is an Olympic title. “It’s definitely the one thing that’s eluded a few of us that have been here for a few years,” she admitted in a recent interview with World Rugby. Now in her 30s, Brazier will be pulling out all the stops to complete the full set of gold medals.

CAROLINE DROUIN

Part of a six-strong contingent who helped Les Bleues to win the bronze medal at Rugby World Cup 2017 to make it into France’s Olympic squad. Drouin has had an eventful few months having started at fly-half against England in the final of the Women’s Six Nations 2021 before playing a leading role at the Olympic Sevens repechage, where France claimed one of the two tickets to go to Tokyo, scoring a try and kicking seven conversions across the two-day rugby sevens event. She will be in the thick of it in Japan for a team expected to do well.

MARTIN IOSEFO

A prop in rugby sevens and a winger in 15s, Iosefo combines power with pace and can run tries in from anywhere. If you’ve not already been dazzled by his outrageous feet, keep an eye out for his hitch-kick.

Iosefo only started two of the Eagles’ games at Rugby World Cup 2019 but will be front and centre of the Eagles’ bid for a medal in Tokyo.

SAMU KEREVI

Olympic winners, Shannon Parry and Sharni Williams, are Australia’s crossover stars, but it’ll be fascinating to see what sort of impact Kerevi has on the rugby sevens competition in Tokyo.

While without a single HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament to his name, the 33-cap player did impress at the recent Oceania Sevens and scored a superb try against New Zealand. Kerevi will hope to have a more enjoyable Olympic experience than fellow 15s convert, Sonny Bill Williams, who was stretchered off in Rio during the All Black Sevens’ shock defeat to Japan.

KAREN PAQUIN

Paquin turns 34 years of age a few days after the rugby sevens competition concludes but she is still going strong and would love nothing more than a gold medal as an early birthday present.

A special talent who brings so much to the Canadian team in both formats of the game, Paquin’s work-rate knows no bounds. She won the bronze medal at Rio 2016 in between appearing at two Rugby World Cups in 15s, helping Canada to the final in the 2014 tournament.

SEMI RADRADRA

Hasn’t played for the Flying Fijians since RWC Sevens 2018 but Radradra’s exploits in 15s kept fans at Rugby World Cup 2019 on the edge of their seats.

He can bump tacklers off, blast through them with his sheer physical presence or beat them with his deceptive pace, while few can match his offloading ability. It’s hard to stand out in the Fiji team given the insanely high skills levels across the board, but Radradra is definitely a player to have that x-factor.

NAYA TAPPER

A track and field star in her youth, Tapper has enjoyed a meteoric rise to become one of the world’s very best in both rugby sevens and 15s.

The long-striding Tapper scored three tries and impressed with her power and pace at Rugby World Cup 2017 in Ireland before reverting back to the shorter format of the game. Tapper has been working towards competing in Tokyo ever since missing out on Rio 2016 and she’ll be pulling out all the stops to be a successful Olympian.