A thirst to learn and an iron mentality
Fasten your seatbelts Singapore – the HSBC Rugby Sevens is on its way. Sixteen of the world’s best rugby teams will be lighting up the National Stadium from 16th to 17th April 2016. Expect fast-moving action, dynamic games, and powerhouse players. If you’re new to the game, don’t panic. Here’s a quick crib sheet on who to look out for.
HARRY JONES, 27
Stats: The 27-year-old fly-half started playing rugby at the age of 13. When he was 20 he captained the Canadian team at the 2009 IRB Junior World Championship in Japan, and last year he represented Canada at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Jones comes from a rugby playing family. Not only do his twin brothers play, but his uncle also represented Canada. Jones is now starring with his Canadian team mates in the Vimeo documentary Full Force that gives you a glimpse of what it takes to be a Sevens player. And thanks to Jones and his GoPro you are also treated to some behind-the-scenes footage on the training ground and some questionable singing on the coach.
Did you know? Just before games, Jones tapes his right wrist and writes down meaningful names and happy faces on it.
KITIONE TALIGA, 22
Stats: Kitione Taliga comes from a village in Dratabu, Fiji. The 22 year old plays for the Fiji Sevens squad. He was selected for the Vodaphone Fiji 7s squad when his team Wardens Gold won a national Sevens tournament. While he has only been playing for three years, Taliga recently won the DHL Impact Player Award at the Vancouver Sevens.
Did you know? When not on the field, he works full time as a prison officer.
TIM MIKKELSON, 30
Stats: Mikkelson has represented New Zealand in Sevens rugby since 2008, and helped the team earn six World Series titles. He was awarded the 2012-2013 IRB Sevens Player of the Year and Player of Tournament for 2013 Rugby Sevens World Cup. He now captains the team.
Did you know? If he wasn’t playing rugby, Mikkelson said he would like to be a doctor.
MARTIN IOSEFO, 26
Stats: Martin Iosefo, who is of Samoan descent, plays for the United States National Rugby Sevens team. The 26-year-old Hawaiian stands at centre. He made his debut at the 2014 Dubai Sevens. Known for his hard hits in defence, Iosefo has also played with the Men’s Collegiate All-Americans at 2014’s Serevi Rugbytown Sevens, and the Denver Barbarians at 2015 Club 7s Nationals.
Did you know? Prior to playing rugby, this athletic powerhouse played college football.
VIRIMI VAKATAWAO, 23
Stats: Twenty-three-year-old Virimi Vakatawa plays on the wing and at centre for France’s National Rugby Sevens Team. The Fijian-born star is known for his rare combination of pace and power and played for Racing Métro 92 between 2011 and 2013. He then joined the French Sevens team in 2014 and has since been recognised as one of the most prolific rugby players in the country.
Did you know? He was mentored by former Fijian player, Simon Raiwalui. According to Raiwalui, Vakatawa has “a thirst to learn and an iron mentality”.
ROSCKO SPECKMAN, 27
Stats: Hailing from Grahamstown on the Eastern Cape, Roscko Speckman plays for the South Africa Sevens team. The 27-year-old winger has not only represented the Natal Sharks and Pumas, but has played in six World Series tournaments. The highlight in his career came when he won DHL’s Impact Player Award in 2015.
Did you know? His nickname is Speckmagic. With stats like these, who is going to argue?
CARLIN ISLES, 27
Stats: He represented the US national developmental team Atlantis when he first took up rugby in July 2012. He soon moved onto the first team and was running onto the pitch with them by October the same year.
Stop press: At the moment Isles is said to be injured, however, he is travelling with the team so we still hope to see him on the pitch in Singapore. Here’s a short video of what you can expect when he is back in action.