Pol Pla has the sort of name that rolls off the tongue which is good news for World Rugby's TV commentators who are getting used to announcing his name with an exclamation mark after it.

He may be small in stature but Plá's part in the recent rise of the Spanish men's sevens team cannot be understated in any way.

A try scorer as Spain came from behind to beat Samoa in the Olympic repechage final in Monaco to claim the final ticket to Rio 2016, Pla added another highlight to his already impressive showreel earlier this month with the match-winner as Spain's men beat New Zealand for the first time in history, 26-24 at the HSBC Canada Sevens in Vancouver.

Pla tapped a penalty on his own 22-metre line and attacked the left side. Taking out two defenders, he passed to Joan Losada who outsprinted the experienced Tim Mikkelson before passing back inside to Pla who'd used all his pace to keep up in support.

“Beating the All Blacks Sevens was fantastic, incredible,” he told World Rugby. “During games, one knows what the score is looking like and we knew what was needed to win. That is why I played that quick penalty. When I got the ball back, the mind went blank, but once I knew that I wouldn’t be stopped, it was pure joy.

“It was a great feeling, a very important moment. We hadn’t beaten the All Blacks (Sevens) before, but we have been beating other big teams and competing more and more against the best.


“It is the outcome of a lot of hard work that we’ve been doing, led by our coach Pablo (Feijoó), a former player with huge experience, who pushes us to the maximum. The guys are responding, we have a great group, and we are playing better all the time.”

Staying focused

Despite being currently 11th in the series standings and with a comfortable cushion between themselves and relegation, Pla won't rest until their place among the world's elite is guaranteed for next year. The next goal will be to then qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, a road he describes as very tough.

“The European qualifier will have very good teams. We’ll have to wait to see if Great Britain qualify directly but, other than those teams, there are some very hard teams, including Ireland, who had very good performances last year. Going back and playing in Tokyo will be great," he said.

Meanwhile, Pla has welcomed the new-look men’s and women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series schedule which includes at least six combined events, for men and women, over a four-year cycle between 2019 and 2023.

On a personal level, it will be special for Plá because his sister Bárbara has been a regular on the Spain women's team for a decade.

“Having more combined tournaments is great,” said Pla. “Sharing tournaments with the women is very positive and doing it with a sister, even better!

“Our parents have travelled for key moments, such as the Olympic Games, but now, with us travelling so much, it is not simple anymore. But they are our biggest fans and will watch every game we play in despite the time kick-off is. They support us from a distance.”

After so much hard work by their son and his team-mates, one can only imagine the joy and pride of his parents when watching him score to secure the first win against the All Blacks Sevens back home in Spain.