Coe: glowing endorsement for Rugby Sevens
Seb Lauzier interviews the teams for TV after every match of the HSBC Sevens World Series. Here he reflects on a glowing endorsement for Rugby and Sevens by Lord Sebastian Coe and previews the latest IRB Sevens World TV show. You can follow him and tweet in your questions @seblauzier.
You almost had to pinch yourself. Standing up at the front, listening to Lord Sebastian Coe talking about Rugby and Sevens as if it was his favourite sport, it felt like having royalty to your birthday party.
But there we were, earlier this week, in a packed room as Coe talked sport, rugby, Olympics and business at the first IRB World Rugby Conference and Exhibition, which is rounded up on this week's Total Rugby.
The event MC, Will Greenwood, had introduced Coe by saying it was like having Jay Z singing at your house-warming party and, despite the earlyish start at 08:00, he hit all his notes.
Coe is Box Office and, as you'd probably expect, he held the room like nobody else over the two or three days in Dublin. The man is seriously impressive and at the same time totally engaging.
I was lucky enough to interview him earlier this year at the Hong Kong Sevens and his passion and knowledge for the game of rugby is entirely genuine. By his own admission he probably watches more rugby at the moment than he does athletics, with his son playing at school, and he also believes the sport can bring a lot to the Olympic movement, describing it as 'ostensibly a young person’s game'.
“For the Olympic movement that is important because if the challenge of the 20th century was to take sport to the world, the challenge of the 21st century is to take sport to young people.
“If you look at the physical literacies, and you look at the hand-eye coordination, the speed, the strength, the stamina … Sevens has it all. I think Sevens will add a dimension to the athleticism of young people; I think it is a great addition to the Olympic movement."
Does Rugby Sevens need a more glowing endorsement than that?
IRB Sevens World: Behind the scenes with Santi
It is with those words still ringing out loud and clear that the best men's and women's Sevens players in the world will travel to Dubai over the coming days. There they will be part of the biggest ever Dubai Sevens with over 3,000 players in the invitational tournaments and - at the pinnacle - the elite women and men in their World Series events.
This week the latest IRB Sevens World show will be aired by broadcasters around the world. In it there's a nice look-back on round one of the men's in Australia. There's a wonderful piece on the 'speedsters' that Coe was talking about; there's action from the Asian championship and a preview with Australia's woman of steel Sharni Williams as she looks ahead to the new women's season.
But the most heart-warming piece in the programme is a behind-the-scenes take on Santiago Gomez Cora's first white-knuckle ride as an international coach. Gomez Cora was a fine player but it is his honesty and openness about how brutally unprepared he was for life as a coach that steals the show.
"As a player I used to think that it looked great being a coach, being in Dubai, Australia or wherever just resting and having fun.. But you have so much more work to do: before training, after training, during the tournament you're watching videos, making decisions. Nobody told me all of that!"
He now feels 'complete' being back on the Series where he is still top of the try-scoring charts by some distance with 230. Every now and then he reverts back to message - he talks well about the journey to Rio 2016 and Argentina's serious plans - but he also talks of the stress, the nerves, the fatigue of living a Sevens tournament from 'the other side'.
Now he heads back to Dubai for the first time in three years and admits, with a lump in his throat, that the atmosphere he felt there many times as a player will be hard to rival.
IRB Sevens World is aired by broadcasters in over 100 countries around the world. Where can I watch? >> (Check local listings for times).
Follow and tweet your questions: @seblauzier.
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