Chris Robshaw picks his GB Sevens Dream Team and it’s filled with crossover stars

James While
Chris Robshaw picks his GB Sevens Dream Team for the 2024 Olympic Games.

Chris Robshaw picks his GB Sevens Dream Team for the 2024 Olympic Games.

For fans of rugby in Paris, the World Cup might be over, but the end of July next year sees the start of the Olympic Games with the Sevens tournament held on the same turf that saw France crash out of their own competition to South Africa at the quarter-final stage.

The big news in the sport is that superstar scrum-half Antoine Dupont is the first of a host of French stars to have taken a sabbatical to go and have a second shot at winning gold at the Stade de France, but this time in the short format of the sport.

Rumours suggest that Louis Bielle-Biarrey and Damian Penaud are also considering a short-term switch to enhance the French chances, with a couple of other big names expected to follow suit.

A great challenge to your skill-set

Former England skipper Chris Robshaw is a big fan of the contrasting demands that Sevens places upon players and is all for seeing some crossover in terms of the star names taking part.

“It’s a great challenge to your skill-sets and it’s also a lot of fun,” he told Planet Rugby.

“The demands of the 15-a-side game and the 7-a-side version are completely different and in order to compete at international level there’s definitely a difference in the approach you’d take in your training. Sevens is all about that sharp pace game, building your fast twitch muscle fibres over and above your long-term stamina for 80 minutes.

“We used to use the short form as a gateway to enhance skills for the longer game as part of our development and I believe it really paid dividends in teaching you how to attack space at pace, how to develop quick hands for passing and also, importantly, how to effectively defend one-on-one situations,” Robshaw explained.

“Players like Lawrence Dallaglio, Mathew Tait, Tom Varndell and Josh Lewsey all benefitted hugely from time in this version of the sport, with ‘Lol’ becoming the only double world champion in both formats.

“Regarding Dupont – he’ll be absolutely brilliant in this tournament. It’s made for his skill-set and also gives him a chance to recover from his various injury issues.

“Without wanting to throw shade at any of the current Sevens specialists, I’d love to see a team of regular Test players created. Given that I appear to be chairman of my own selections, I’ve picked the ten, including three replacements, I’d want to see in my dream team.

Chris Robshaw’s Sevens Dream Team

1. Hamish Watson: Gritty, great ball skills and one of those guys who’d adapt well to the space of Sevens. He also punches hugely above his weight in contact and he’d be an ideal prop.

2. Ben Earl: Similar to Watson, but possibly more gas, Earl’s natural ball handling would see him adapt to the hooker role.

3. Duhan van der Merwe: At some 18 stones, Van der Merwe is as heavy as most Test front-rowers but with ball in hand, he’s devastating!

4. Raffi Quirke: Straightline gas, but also the ability to use his kicking skills to unlock chances for his backs.

5. Marcus Smith: Made for the game. More steps that Fred Astaire!

6. Joe Marchant: Marchant’s ability to nail one-on-one tackles is peerless, and his pace with ball in hand and getting onto kicks is spectacular.

7. Louis Rees-Zammit: Quickest runner in Britain – why wouldn’t you want him in!?


8. Josh Adams: Adams has that rounded skill-set but also the power to be my reserve prop – not that he’ll thank me for branding him as one of the front-row, even for Sevens!

9. Rhys Webb: Blistering acceleration – and sometimes we confuse pace with this quality. I’ve been on the end of some of Webb’s runs and his ability to get to full speed is remarkable.

10. Darcy Graham: He showed us in the World Cup just how elusive he is, but key to that is his willingness to go and get onto passes, crucial in the Sevens arena.

“So there’s my side – some real guile and pace there, but crucially, all of the players I’ve picked defend width really well. I don’t know how the GB Sevens Team will be selected, but I do hope that we see some of the longer form players at least looked at.

“The short form does wonders for skills and spatial awareness and the 15-a-side game can only benefit from those guys bringing their learning back into the domestic and also international game.”

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