Having made his debut for the Argentina sevens team in 2009, soon after Los Pumas 7s took silver in Dubai’s Rugby World Cup Sevens, Gastón Revol is one of the most experienced players in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
Had it not been for the COVID-19 pandemic, the utility back born in Córdoba, who turned 34 last November, would surely have reached 100 tournaments by now – and would be in the exclusive two-time Olympian club.
Asked when he will hang up his boots, “not sure, a couple more years for sure,” Revol says, before adding “I didn’t say sevens”. The former captain is currently involved in the customary January sevens camp in Pinamar, a seaside town that would typically be full of summer tourists.
Far from being on holiday, Los Pumas 7s coach Santiago Gómez Cora is hard at work under the intense heat.
“I am very well. Mentally very well, happy to be here and able to enjoy what I like doing,” he opens. “Obviously, the years take a toll, but I am working hard to keep in my best possible form.”
As much as they are preparing physically, the 18-player Los Pumas 7s squad is focusing on the game plan. Argentina were able to close 2020 winning the Sudamericano de Sevens in Viña del Mar, Chile. But Revol admits playing time since then has been an issue: “We are lacking game time so we are playing a lot amongst ourselves, trying to get back the rhythm.
“All this time with no action, no rugby, was hard for all of us. Each one in his own activity had to change many things and life changed for everyone. But I always say we are privileged and we can’t complain.
“Fortunately, we could finish the previous year playing. Now we start the year with a goal. We value all that we have.”
Thankfulness is heartfelt from someone who has travelled the world multiple times, has played in two RWC Sevens and is aiming for a second Olympic appearance, having won an Olympic diploma at Rio 2016.
From that team that lost in sudden death to Great Britain in the quarter-finals at Rio, captain Santiago Álvarez, Rodrigo Etchart (who seriously injured his knee within a couple of minutes of the opening game against the USA in Rio), Franco Sábato, Germán Schulz and Fernando Luna are still chasing a medal.
There is also youth in the squad through Lucio Cinti, Tomás Vanni, Ignacio Mendy and Marcos Moneta, all Youth Olympic Games gold medallists at Buenos Aires 2018.
“After Rio, I never thought of Tokyo,” says Revol, who captained his nation at the 2016 Games. “I was thinking on the tournaments that followed – there was a RWC 7s in San Francisco to aim for. Speaking with Santi Gómez Cora, our goal for me was to reach that tournament. After that, it was another year until the Olympic qualification in Chile. And after that, the big effort of another year. With the pandemic, everything became longer.”
Having helped his nation earn its regional place in Tokyo, Revol wasn't ready to hang up his boots quite yet. And while he has used the non-playing time created by the pandemic to complete his accountancy degree, his goals and dreams remain rugby-based.
“As a group, the goal is to prepare the team for the Olympic Games so that it is competitive. As individuals, it is to make the team for that competition.”