Some familiar names and some new to everyone bar the most seasoned rugby sevens watchers will be on show in Vancouver and Edmonton over the next two weekends as international rugby returns following a hugely successful and exciting Tokyo Olympics.
Each of the squads for the 12-team men’s competitions, which make up the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, and the Fast Four women’s event, include a mixture of Olympians, experienced World Series campaigners and some international rookies.
Here, we pick out some of the players with the ability to have everybody talking about them.
Sebastian Berti (Chile)
The young playmaker is one of the many newcomers in the Los Condores’ Sevens squad but he comes with high expectations given the grounding he has received in professional rugby in Ireland. Berti was a key player in the successful Newbridge College side that was on the verge of a first Leinster Senior Schools’ title in 50 years until COVID-19 intervened. Berti recently earned himself a place in the esteemed Leinster academy, where, as a fly-half, he has the perfect man to turn to for advice in Los Pumas legend and current Leinster backs coach Felipe Contepomi.
Ronald Brown (South Africa)
Brown, a sweeper in sevens, has faced a remarkable journey to get to where he is today. Now 26 years of age, Brown was a star of Varsity Cup rugby for the University of Johannesburg when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. After several months of chemotherapy, where he lost 11kgs in eight months, Brown recovered to take his place in the Blitzboks squad for the Tokyo Olympics. While the Blitzboks fell short of expectations in exiting the tournament at the quarter-final stage, for Brown just getting to Japan was a victory in itself. He scored a brace of tries against Australia and made three appearances in Tokyo and is now hoping to make up for lost time on the World Series.
Christian Dyer (USA)
Fresh from his try-scoring exploits for the US Eagles, Christian Dyer gets an opportunity to show what he can do on the sevens stage. The Californian has two tries in four tests in 15s, most recently in the Rugby Americas North 1 play-off victory over Canada and will enjoy the extra space on the sevens field. A powerful runner, Dyer is one of seven uncapped players in Mike Friday’s 13-man squad but he gained some experience of international sevens with USA at the Madrid Sevens earlier this year.
Ben Jones-Bishop (Jamaica)
Jones-Bishop was all set to appear in the Rugby League World Cup until the tournament was suspended for a year. Instead, he’ll be making his debut for the Crocs in Canada. Crossing codes is not always straightforward, but the winger with Super League experience from spells at Wakefield, Leeds and Salford, is used to overcoming challenges, having previously suffered from blood clots in his lungs and a fractured skull. Now part-time with York City Knights, Jones-Bishop is an exciting addition to the Crocs.
Jasmine Joyce (Great Britain)
With her evasive skills and finishing ability, the Welsh pocket rocket is one of the ‘must-watch’ players in international sevens right now. Joyce heads to Canada on the back of a superb Tokyo Olympics, where she scored seven tries in six appearances as Great Britain missed out on a medal by finishing fourth. The Bristol Bears star will be determined not to let her standards drop in Canada.
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