The dust will barely have settled on the Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony before the stars of women's sevens take to the Deodoro Stadium pitch to showcase the magic of the sport to a captive audience.

Trying to pick just seven stars to watch is no easy task anymore, such is the competitiveness of the women's game now and then throw in the carrot being dangled of the first Olympic sevens medals and levels will rise another notch.



The unstoppable New Zealand speedster Portia Woodman
With just three days to go until Rio 2016, check out the wheels on one of New Zealand's superstars

The former netballer was one of more than 1,000 women who went along to the Go4Gold trials across New Zealand and coach Sean Horan quickly identified her as "pretty special". The rest is history with Woodman now the all-time leading try-scorer in HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series history with 119 tries over four seasons.

Three times she has finished as top try-scorer in a series, including in 2014-15 when she became only the fifth player - man or woman - in series history to score more than 50 (52) tries in a campaign. That season she crossed for 13 and 14 tries in two tournaments, teams simply having no answer to her pace and lethal footwork, a skill honed in her netball days.

Her at times telepathic understanding with Kayla McAlister, another former netballer, has been key to New Zealand's success with three series titles and a World Rugby Women's Sevens Player of the Year accolade for both of them, McAlister in 2013 and Woodman in 2015.


Olympics 7 in 60: Canada's Ghislaine Landry
Canada's Ghislaine Landry loves pizza but puts in the hard graft on the pitch and is aiming for gold at Rio 2016

Canada's Ghislaine Landry, like Woodman, earned a place in the series dream team for 2015-16 after another impressive campaign which saw her finish as the leading point scorer for the second season in a row, this time with 158 points, including 19 tries.

Only Woodman has scored more than Landry's 575 points in the history of the series and her importance to Canada's hopes of winning gold cannot be underestimated. This 'pocket rocket' is one of the world's best women's sevens players, as shown by her appearance in dream teams for four of the five rounds in 2015-16.

A calming presence on the field, she is blessed with both pace and vision, a lethal combination for any sevens player, and will be hoping to add an Olympic gold medal to her Pan American Games gold in 2015 and RWC Sevens silver medal from 2013.


Another former World Rugby Women's Sevens Player of the Year, Emilee Cherry has been one of the key players for Australia as they have evolved under coach Tim Walsh to become series champions and favourites for gold at Rio 2016, prompting Walsh to recently label her as "a very special player" and "a very important cog in this team".

One to Watch: Emilee Cherry
With the Canada Sevens set for kick off in Langford, our One to Watch is Australia's Emilee Cherry.

The top try and point scorer in a 2013-14 series which saw Australia win their first titles in Dubai and Sao Paulo, Cherry played touch football for her country before joining the sevens programme and hasn't looked back since, playing in 18 of the 20 events on the series - the most of any Australian.

Only Portia Woodman has scored more tries than Cherry's tally of 82 and the 23-year-old also lies third on the point scoring table behind the New Zealand flyer and Canadian Ghislaine Landry, and Australia will hope the Toowoomba native is at her scintillating best as they attempt to cap an already unforgettable year with an Olympic gold medal.


A Women's Rugby World Cup winner with England in 2014, Scarratt has blossomed in the role of sevens captain this year and if Great Britain are to realise their dream of an Olympic medal they will need their captain to be at her very best and remain injury-free for the three days, such is her importance to the team.

Scarratt, who began playing rugby aged five and excelled in a number of different sports in her youth, has led her side to victories over Australia (twice) and New Zealand on the 2015-16 series, as well as a first title in more than three years, in the Langford round in April.

A PE teaching assistant before signing a central contract with England after that World Cup success, this rangy centre seems to coast through defences as if they weren't there, creating opportunities for those around her, and earned a place in the series dream team for her displays.

Emily Scarratt is one to watch for Team GB in Rio
Despite plying her trade for England on the world series, Emily Scarratt will represent Team GB at Rio 2016


A stalwart of the Brazilian women's team for over a decade, Paula Ishibashi has been given the honour of captaining her country at their home Olympic Games and will, as always, lead by example and inspire those around her as the team target the quarter-finals and the final core team place available for the 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series.

Twice named as Brazil's best rugby player by the country's National Olympic Committee, including in 2015, the 31-year-old scrum-half may be small in stature but her passion for the game and confident play more than compensate and coach Chris Neill admits the "whole team gets a lift" from Ishibashi on the pitch.

She has endured an injury-hit last 12 months and featured only once on the series, at home in Sao Paulo in February, but if Brazil are to give the home crowd something to truly cheer about over the three days of competition, Ishibashi will be at the heart of everything.


The word 'inspirational' is often over-used but in the case of Jillion Potter it is perhaps an understatement, the American first overcoming a broken neck and then a rare form of soft tissue cancer to return to the Women's Eagles Sevens squad for the start of the 2015-16 series.

Her mere presence alone inspires those around her, but throw in her great passion for the game, hard-work ethic and willingness to help out where she can and it's easy to understand why coach Richie Walker has said it is "quite an honour" to coach her and that "she has made the team stronger".

Olympics Sevens Uncovered: Jillion Potter's Incredible Story
Team USA's Jillion Potter battled past cancer to come back and lead her side and is now embarking on an incredible Olympic journey

Potter, who turned 30 last month, always has a smile on her face and who can blame her after the adversity she has overcome, but that smile will get a lot wider if she and her team-mates can earn a place on the medal rostrum come the conclusion of the women's competition on Monday.


One of Spain's standout players in the global repechage in Dublin in June as Las Leonas claimed the last place in the Rio 2016 draw with a 19-12 victory over top seeds Russia, thanks in no small part to another two-try burst from their livewire playmaker Patricia Garcia.

Garcia, who honed her skills while playing rugby in New Zealand, was the top point scorer (73) and joint top try scorer (7) in the repechage, her ability to burst through defences almost at will as important as the calmness she showed repeatedly under pressure when kicking for goal.

Spain were the top ranked European nation at Women's Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in fourth and if they are to challenge for a medal come the final day in Rio then 26-year-old Garcia will be in the thick of everything, using her handling skills and twinkling feet to create opportunities not only for herself but those around her.

Who do you think will win the first ever rugby sevens gold medal in Rio? Join the conversation @WorldRugby7s using #Rugby7s