IRB wants star power at Olympics

Gosper would like to see Israel Folau in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Photo: Getty Images

Gosper would like to see Israel Folau in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Photo: Getty Images

Household names must feature in Olympic Sevens in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 if rugby is to maximise its opportunity on the world stage, International Rugby Board chief Brett Gosper says.

The board under Gosper is encouraging international unions to work through red-tape issues and ensure stars who want to play are allowed to do so.

Gosper says the value of out-and-out Sevens players must be respected, but he accepts that rugby’s chances of becoming a permanent Olympic sport may rely on an injection of star power.

“In 2017, straight after Rio, they’ll decide if rugby continues to be a core sport at the Olympics,” Gosper, son of former International Olympic Committee vice-president Kevan said. “We will be in Japan [2020] as well but that may be it.”

Manu Tuilagi would be headline attraction in Rio, Gosper believes. Photo: Getty Images

Manu Tuilagi would be headline attraction in Rio, Gosper believes. Photo: Getty Images

“We’ve got to work very hard to ensure we’ll be successful at Rio … because a lot of money comes into rugby because of the Olympics. It really is a differentiator. A powerful draw for youth, spectators and players to be part of an Olympic adventure.

“The profile of the players in 15s is obviously something which has a lot of impact. We think it’s important and the Olympics would like us to have them there.

“We would hope the unions would make it easy for those top players who want to be part of the Olympics. It’s good for their country, good for the sport and good for the Olympics.”

Gosper said he’d personally love to see Wallabies fullback Israel Folau and England powerhouse Manu Tuilagi feature at the Games.

  • ESPN

 

 

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Filed under IRB, Israel Folau, Olympics, Pacific Islanders, Personalities, Rio de Janeiro, Sevens

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