Olympics: World Rugby chief Brett Gosper open to GB sevens idea

GB women's captain Emily Scarratt is tackled by Canadain players
GB women came fourth in Rio while the men's team claimed silver

World Rugby chief Brett Gosper would be open to the idea of Great Britain teams playing in the world sevens series.

England, Wales and Scotland are world series rivals on the men's circuit, but combined to form men's and women's GB Olympic teams for Rio 2016.

Jasmine Joyce was the only Welsh woman in the tournament while James Davies and Sam Cross made the men's side.

"If they really are taking the Olympics seriously, it would be normal that they look at it," Gosper told BBC Wales.

"And we would welcome either alternative [playing as separate nations or combining as GB] in terms of it fitting into the [world series] programme.

"It's up to the host nations of those countries to work out if it's much better for them to combine their resources and present a GB side."

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Dominant Fiji crush GB to win sevens gold

Scottish pair Mark Bennett and Mark Robertson were part of the men's squad in Rio.

Sevens made its Olympic debut in Rio with GB men taking silver after losing to Fiji in the men's final, while the women were beaten by Canada in the bronze medal match.

Australia won the women's tournament and while sevens is guaranteed Olympic participation in 2020, it is not yet certain of a place for 2024.

There are currently five host venues and 11 core teams on the women's world circuit and Gosper says the growth of the game is a focal point ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

"We want more destinations; a sixth destination will be introduced soon," the Australian said.

"We'd like some of those competitions to be happening when the men's competitions are on which gives us higher visibility. We're looking at all these things to ensure we can create that competition.

"Perhaps one or two of the women's teams could have been stronger [during the Olympics].

"We're also looking at the possibility of a second-tier competition on the men's World Series so there'll definitely be higher competition as we head towards Tokyo."

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Winger Joyce wants the Welsh Rugby Union to back the Team GB concept.

Unlike England and Scotland, Wales does not compete in the women's world series, leaving her at a disadvantage.

When asked if a permanent Team GB it is a realistic possibility Joyce replied: "Absolutely. That would be ideal for the men as well.

"The Olympics is the biggest sporting event of all time and we need to start progressing for it now, not a year or 10 weeks before [as was the case for GB's men ahead of the Rio Games because of national commitments].

"The top teams such as New Zealand and Australia have been performing as the same team, same squad for four, five years and in Great Britain we don't have that opportunity to compete as one team, so hopefully we can at least get together a bit earlier before Tokyo."

Listen to interviews with Brett Gosper and Jasmin Joyce on Radio Wales Sport, BBC Radio Wales from 19:00 BST on Friday, 26 August.

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