The Commonwealth Games is over and New Zealand took the silver medal behind an impressive and speedy BlitzBokke South Africa who used a sprinkling of Super Rugby and former Springboks to help take them to the gold medal at Glasgow 2014. New Zealand have won the first four Commonwealth Games since Rugby Sevens was introduced, but you have to wonder if there actually is room for teams to include some exciting players from the 15-a side game, even though both Rugby Sevens and XVs are totally different games?
New Zealand really missed some players with speed like Frank Halai, Charles Piutau, Ben Smith and Julian Savea who would have given them a great chance at winning the gold medal at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. New Zealand made it to the final before losing 17-12 with a bunch of Rugby Sevens specialists, although they were far from convincing during the tournament, the fact that they made the final and only narrowly lost is some comfort, but it leaves you wondering if those Rugby Sevens specialists will be enough to get the gold medal at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016?
The problem is that Sevens Rugby clashes with Super Rugby and International Rugby and requires specialist training, hence why only fringe Blues player Peter Ahki was the only Super Rugby player included by coach Gordon Tietjens. The other thing is that in the past there have been plenty of quality 15-a side players that return to Rugby Sevens, but don’t make the intended impact. I remember attending the Wellington Sevens in the early days and greats of the game like Christian Cullen and Jonah Lomu made a limited impact on the game despite originally playing sevens in their younger days, but being out of it for about five years.
Who would you include in the New Zealand Sevens team for Rio 2016?
Ideally, you want a core of experienced sevens players to be the glue of the team and then stars like Ben Smith, Frank Halai, Charles Piutau and Julian Savea add the spark. There are also some other players who would probably be keen, but you don’t want the team to lose their edge by having too many new faces. Some more leftfield options would beKieran Read, Hosea Gear, Rene Ranger, Sonny Bill Williams, Benji Marshall and Shaun Johnson from rugby league fame.