Sport

Kildunne and Jones set to transform GB Rugby Sevens

GB women’s sevens have not hit the heights this season, but a rival coach believes that the return of Grand Slam heroes Ellie Kildunne and Meg Jones could transform their fortunes.

An eighth-place finish in Singapore earlier this month ensured GB will not be involved in the relegation play-off, and instead head to the HSBC SVNS Grand Final in Madrid looking up the table.

In Jones, who co-captained Team GB at the Tokyo Olympics, and Kildunne, arguably the standout performer for the Red Roses as they took Grand Slam glory in the Guinness Women’s Six Nations, GB have a pair of superstars to call upon in the Spanish capital.

For Tim Walsh, coach of the Australian women’s team which finished the regular season in second place, the idea of bringing in Jones and Kildunne is a no-brainer for GB considering how they have performed this year.

Explaining the challenges of bringing in players from 15s, Walsh said: “It all depends on the player and the team. I have done a lot of research on it. 

“It depends on what they can add and what experience that player has and what is the dynamic of your team.

“There are massive gains to it but there can also be negatives if you don’t do it correctly. There is a certain formula around it, and you need to an audit on your team and your style of player and the player you are targeting for it to work. 

“If someone has done it before, their learning curve is not as sharp. You can quickly visit pretty quickly, but then it’s the cohesion with the team. Is the team winning? Are they going to have a massive impact by being there?

“But for the British, I think it’s a very strong move on their part. They are mid to lower table so if you get world class players coming in, I’m sure they are going to add a tremendous amount.

“If you are number one and adding in players, then you would ask why do you need to do it? From the British point of view, it’s two very good players with a lot of experience who will add value and increase the chances of performing.”

This will be the first year of a HSBC SVNS Grand Final, with the tournament offering a final opportunity for teams to lay down a marker before the Olympic Games in Paris this summer.

GB Women have already secured a spot in the French capital, and there they may have to get the better of Australia, who won gold in Rio eight years ago.

Walsh believes the performance in Madrid could be a good indicator of who will be in contention at the Games.

He added: “World Rugby have done a really great job on positioning tournaments. Madrid is perfectly positioned to peak perform and then move on into the Olympics. 

“It’s strategic and if you take your foot off the pedal this close to the Olympics, you probably won’t hit there in peak physical and mental readiness. Our goal is to go there and give it a real crack.”

It’s Grand Final weekend in the heart of Madrid, featuring thrilling rugby matches and immersive cultural experiences. From the excitement on the pitch to the buzz in the air, this is one event you won’t want to miss. Be part of history in the making at the iconic Civitas Metropolitano Stadium.

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