Scott Waldrom made his name as a tearaway openside flanker for Taranaki, the Hurricanes and the Chiefs from 2004-2012. Waldrom made one appearance for the All Blacks in the historic encounter against Munster in 2008. As a sevens specialist, Waldrom played for the All Blacks Sevens from 2004-10. Waldrom has now turned his hand to coaching and continues to be involved in rugby from the grassroots up.Read more exclusive columns
Waldrom: The Olympics are wide open
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Fiji, New Zealand, South Africa, Samoa, Kenya and Scotland all lifted a title to show they are in the medal race (Scotland will be part of Team Great Britain at Rio) while Argentina, Australia, France and USA all showed glimpses of their class throughout the 2015/16 series.
The days when the smaller and non-traditional rugby nations couldn’t keep up is over. Since sevens has been included in the Olympics, a lot of countries have put a big focus on the sport with centralised programmes, funding for fulltime athletes and talent from other sports being brought over for a chance to appear at the Olympics. The players are getting better, the fitness levels are improving and the skills are enhanced.
Although New Zealand only won three tournaments out of the 10 played this year, I still rate them as a big medal hope due to their consistency. While teams like Kenya, Samoa and Scotland managed to take out a leg of the series, they don’t have the consistency of the big three – New Zealand, Fiji and South Africa.
Sir Gordon Tietjen’s side also had to contend with a horror injury toll this year and the transition of a number of fifteens players into sevens. The next eight weeks ahead of the Olympics are vital to continue the development of the new players and get some of New Zealand’s experienced players back to full fitness. Scott Curry is a big one to get back. He knows the game of sevens so well and has a big influence on the team both as a leader and as a quality player.
Although we would certainly benefit by having the likes of Scott Curry and DJ Forbes back in the squad, I think there are more than enough players in the wider squad who can do the job.
I have been asked by a few people who I am picking to win the medals in Rio. I think that the consistency of New Zealand, South Africa and Fiji will see them fighting out for the medals. As for the fourth placed spot – it is up for grabs.
Looking at the women, I was hugely impressed by Australia this year but would not discount Sean Horan’s New Zealand side. In Portia Woodman they have one of the most lethal attacking weapons in the world game. The return of veterans Huriana Manuel, Kelly Brazier, Kayla McAlister and Renee Wickliffe also boosted the side in the last tournament and I think they could well be fighting out for the medals with Australia, Canada and England.
Whatever happens, we are set for some exciting rugby and history making moments when sevens debuts at the Olympics in August.
Scott Waldrom made his name as a tearaway openside flanker for Taranaki, the Hurricanes and the Chiefs from 2004-2012. Despite being pegged behind All Blacks legend Richie McCaw in the number seven jersey, Waldrom made one appearance for the All Blacks in the historic encounter against Munster in 2008. As a sevens specialist, Waldrom also played in seven tournaments for the All Blacks Sevens from 2004-10 and is currently the Rugby Development Officer for the Avalon rugby club in Wellington.
The Views expressed in this article are those of the contributor and not New Zealand Rugby.