The France and Spain women’s teams have the honour of playing in the first ever game of rugby sevens at the Olympic Games when they take to the field at the Deodoro Stadium on 6 August.
In her first column for World Rugby, Les Bleues player Elodie Guiglion talks about her background in sevens and the excitement of competing at Rio 2016.
Asides from taking one year out for the birth of my daughter Lola, I’ve been playing sevens since 2010, and rugby in general for the best part of two decades – since I was seven.
In 15s I competed at Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 on home soil in France but I don’t think even that high level experience will be in any way comparable to the Olympics. For me sevens and 15s are very different. Sevens is extreme on many levels and I owe the trainers and the rest of the team a debt of gratitude for helping me become the player that I am today. I have been able to better myself, to be generous and humble, and I've achieved goals technically and physically.
To play sevens you really need to be a well-rounded player, with a high level of fitness and technically good. You really need to be the complete player. I’m not saying that I’ve already reached that level of completion; in fact, I am far from it, I still have a lot of little things that I need to improve on. But sevens has definitely helped all of us develop into better players.
Dreaming of the Olympic Games
I imagine it will be a spectacular adventure. The Olympics is the dream for all athletes. The Olympics is all we’ve ever thought about and it’s all we’ve been striving for since it was announced back in 2009 that rugby would be included as one of the sports. We all can’t wait to be a part of that huge family of Olympians. If we can make fans happy, that is all that counts.
We spent 15 hard days at INSEP (the National Institute of Sport) and by the end of those two weeks all we wanted was to go home and relax a little before heading off for a three-week training camp at Tignes. At the last minute, however, we were called in for a meeting which prolonged our stay, from the Friday to the Saturday.
So we turned up at the meeting grumpy. But to our surprise all our friends and families were ushered into the room. Honestly, just thinking about it now gives me goosebumps. It really warmed our hearts because we weren’t expecting it at all. It showed us that the big date was quickly approaching and that we had a lot of people behind us and rooting for us.
My little girl Lola won’t be coming to Rio because she is only four-and-a-half years old and full days at the stadium will be too much for her. She doesn’t really understand the hype but she is 100 per cent behind me. We speak a lot about rugby because it is that which takes me away from her, but she will be my biggest supporter in front of the television.
When I think about the fact that the next tournament I play, if I have the chance to play, will be at the Olympic Games, I can hardly believe it. I can’t wait to feel that adrenaline and that spirit that the whole team feels when we play a match.