All Black Sonny Bill Williams’ bid to become the first World Cup winner to grab Olympic gold will trigger a rush by rugby’s top players to be part of both major Global sporting events in Japan in 2019 and 2020.
That is the view of Octavian Morariu, the Rugby Europe President and an International Olympic Council member, who believes rugby’s priorities are about to undergo significant change thanks to the inclusion of Sevens in the Rio Olympics.
Williams is the only member of the 2015 Cup winning All Blacks in the New Zealand Sevens squad for Rio, but Morariu is predicting more players will be attempting a unique Cup and Olympic double when Japan hosts both competitions in successive years.
Morariu said:” Sonny Bill Williams is trying to become an Olympic champion the year after collecting a Rugby World Cup winners’ medal and in 2019 the Cup is in Japan and the following year they are hosting the 2020 Olympics. If I was a top player I would want to target both events and Rio will give everyone an idea of what could be possible.
“Rugby at the Olympics in Rio is going to be huge for two reasons. First because the media exposure will be enormous and very high quality which will show Sevens as its best to billions around the World. Second, we can prove to the Olympic movement and family that we have a place in the Games not only because our sport is dynamic and enjoyable but also because our values are at the core of the Olympics.
“It will also be important for all of the players taking part to realise exactly what being part of the Olympic family is all about. The men and women taking part in the Sevens will be in the village with competitors from more than 200 countries. We still have a lot of work to do as a sport and this will become evident in Rio to make the most of this fantastic opportunity.
“This will be life changing for the players as they are going to be part of Global sport which is a privilege and also a duty. It will be the players responsibility after Rio to go out and tell everyone in the sport about their experience. I am sure this will happen.
“As a result, more and more of the top players in the sport will want to be involved in future Games.”
Chris Jones in the Rugby Paper