John hails Rio selection for Welsh trio

Welsh Rugby Union Head of Performance Geraint John has welcomed the historic selection of home grown trio Sam Cross, James Davies and Jasmine Joyce for Team GB's rugby sevens squads at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

John is confident their selection will provide a major shot in the arm for sevens in Wales.

Rugby is returning to the Olympic Games for the first time since 1924 and in front of a global audience, he expects the sport's appeal to explode.

"If we looked at the beginning of the season or even the midway point of the season, you obviously hope to get players on to the Olympic stage so having two men, and Luke Treharne selected as a reserve, and Jas with the girls is a big boost for the game - not only for Welsh players but also in terms of the sevens game," said a delighted John.

A former head coach of Canada Sevens and Programme Director of Sevens with Australia, John is hoping the meteoric rise of 20-year-old Jasmine Joyce will inspire a future generation of players to take up the sport.

"If you look at where the women's game is going - Jas the athlete that she is - hopefully her performances will attract young players and young girls to play rugby - you never know in four years' time in Tokyo, maybe that number has increased to two or three or even more.

"And the same thing with the men's as well - sevens is a real part of our development path - it's also part of our pathway to actually support the 15s game - many players have come through that pathway so it's pleasing for us from the WRU and pleasing for the players and their families to see their efforts rewarded and recognised," he added.

With only 12 spots available in each squad, competition has been fierce but it's that rivalry which John hopes will see Team GB contest for a medal.

"Both men's and women's programmes have had players from Scotland, England and Wales where the key thing has been to get them to gel and to work together on and off the pitch. Team spirit and cohesion has been a key aspect for the GB squad. The togetherness and willingness to fight for each other is going to play a key part as they bid to claim a medal," he said.

The women's competition kicks off on August 6 in Rio while the men's competition kicks off on August 9 at Deodoro Stadium.

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