Seven of the best players in Rugby World Cup Sevens history

From Waisale Serevi to Portia Woodman, we take a look at seven of the greatest players to grace the RWC Sevens tournament.

Ever since the first Rugby World Cup Sevens was played at Murrayfield in April, 1993, a host of the world’s best players have competed for the Melrose Cup.

And, with the countdown on for RWC Sevens 2022, we take a look at seven of the best male and female players to ever grace the tournament.

Michaela Blyde (New Zealand)

Michaela Blyde became the first player to be named World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year in successive seasons when she received the award in both 2017 and 2018.

The second award came after a dominant performance at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 in San Francisco, during which she scored nine tries in four appearances — including two hat-tricks.

Blade crossed the whitewash three times against Ireland in the quarter-finals, and then followed that up with the opening try of the semi-final win over the USA and another triple against France in the final.

Those tries confirmed a second successive RWC Sevens title for the Black Ferns Sevens, and Blyde will hope to contribute to New Zealand’s quest for a third in Cape Town next year.

Santiago Gomez Cora (Argentina)

The first player to notch a double century of HSBC World Rugby Seven Series tries, Santiago Gomez Cora also left his mark on Rugby World Cup Sevens.

Cora featured at RWC Sevens 2005 in Hong Kong, where he scored three tries in the pool stage before Argentina were eliminated by Fiji in the quarter-finals.

In the United Arab Emirates four years later, Cora and Argentina made it to the final where they came up against Wales, who they had beaten 14-0 in Pool F.

The winger had scored in that match, however, his try-scoring touch eluded him in the showpiece match and Wales were able to secure a narrow 19-12 triumph.

Cora played his final World Series match in 2010, finishing with 230 World Series tries, before transitioning into coaching, and coached the Argentine men’s team at RWC Sevens 2018. 

Ghislaine Landry (Canada)

No female player has scored more points on the World Series than Canadian Ghislaine Landry, who has amassed 1,356 in 208 matches.

Landry played a pivotal role as Canada’s women finished as runners-up to New Zealand at RWC Sevens 2013 in Moscow.

The playmaker scored 37 points at the Luzhniki Stadium — second only to Portia Woodman’s 60 — running in seven tries, including a brace against hosts Russia and Spain.

Five years later, in San Francisco, Landry captained her country and added 31 points to her RWC Sevens tally as Canada finished seventh.

Eric Rush (New Zealand)

One of the original stars of sevens, Eric Rush played nine tests for the All Blacks, including two at Rugby World Cup 1995, but it was in the shorter form of the game that he truly excelled.

Rush represented New Zealand at three RWC Sevens, although a broken leg kept him out of the knockout stages as his countrymen won the title in 2001, and played on the World Series until he was 39.

A powerful and elusive runner, Rush was also a committed leader who captained New Zealand to Commonwealth Games gold in both 1998 and 2002. 

“He is synonymous with sevens,” former teammate Karl Tenana wrote last year, “and is probably the best captain I’ve ever seen. He had this ability to get players to play above the level they even knew they could perform themselves, as well as obviously being a class player himself.

Waisale Serevi (Fiji)

Known around the world as the ‘King of Sevens’, Waisale Serevi is arguably the most recognisable proponent of the shorter format.

Capable of rare feats on the rugby pitch, Serevi was the driving force behind the Fiji team for much of the 1990s and 2000s, amassing 1,310 points on the World Series and a record 297 points at RWC Sevens tournaments.

Serevi twice tasted RWC Sevens success, but it was in 1997 that he had the biggest impact, scoring 117 points as Fiji surged to the title, beating South Africa 24-21 in the final in Hong Kong.

A triple Commonwealth Games medallist, the World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee became player-coach of Fiji in 2005 and led the team to its first World Series in his first season.

Marika Vunibaka (Fiji)

The original flying Fijian, Marika Vunibaka burst onto the scene during his country’s run to the RWC Sevens 1997 title in Hong Kong.

Vunibaka scored 12 tries at Hong Kong Stadium, including four in the semi-final victory against Samoa, as Fiji lifted the Melrose Cup for the first time. 

Four years later, the winger notched five tries as his side finished third in Argentina, and contributed a further six during RWC Sevens 2005, including a hat-trick against Japan, as Fiji regained their title back in Hong Kong.

No player has scored more RWC Sevens tries than the 23 Vunibaka managed across his three tournament appearances.

Portia Woodman (New Zealand)

Injuries and the ongoing pandemic have ensured Portia Woodman has not played on the World Series since October, 2018, but it cannot be forgotten how much of a force the New Zealand winger had been prior to that.

At her first RWC Sevens, in Russia in 2013, Woodman scored 12 tries in six matches as the Black Fern Sevens claimed their first title. Five years later, she crossed the whitewash six times, including once in the 29-0 final defeat of France, as New Zealand won gold again.

Between 2012-18, meanwhile, Woodman scored 195 World Series tries in just 157 matches. No female player has scored more, and only two players — Ghislaine Landry and Tyla Nathan-Wong — have amassed more points.

In 2018, the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year 2015 also helped New Zealand to Commonwealth Games gold in Australia, while two years previously she scored 10 tries, including two hat-tricks, en route to a silver medal at Rio 2016.

 

Sign up to our newsletter below for more on Rugby World Cup Sevens

 

Last updated: May 24, 2021, 11:10:42 AM
HK women's sevens head coach Iain Monaghan
wr-women-news-sevens sevens-news-women wr-news-olympics-repechage-teams sevens wr-news-sevens Olympic Qualifying wr-news-olympics-w Olympics wr-news wr-women-news wr-news-olympics-m sevens-news-men
Olympic Repechage contenders Hong Kong have already conquered their ‘Everest’
Hong Kong’s women have been ‘moving mountains’ in a bid to be in the best possible shape for the World Rugby Olympic Sevens Repechage in Monaco on 18-20 June.
Rugby Africa Women's Cup 2019: South Africa v Kenya - CREDIT: Gallo Images
wr-women-news-regions wr-news Women's Development Women's wr-women-news wr-women-news-power Womens
South Africa “no longer just a follower” when it comes to gender diversity in rugby
We spoke to World Rugby Council member Vanessa Doble about the constitutional amendments SA Rugby has made to increase female representation in its governance structures.
Maria Thomas
wr-women-news-regions wr-news Women's Development Women's wr-women-news Feature wr-women-news-power Womens
Maria Thomas putting scholarship lessons into practice as Trinidad and Tobago RFU’s first female president
We caught up with the World Rugby Women’s Executive Leadership Scholarship recipient following her historic election win.
WIR_Landscape_Scrum
wr-news wr-women-news mz-advisory RWC2021 Rugby World Cup wr-women-news-2021
World Rugby welcomes Mastercard as founding global partner of Women in Rugby and unveils new marketing campaign
World Rugby has announced details of a transformative five-year partnership with Mastercard and has also launched its new Team Powered marketing campaign.
Photo of players running out at a Japan rugby test event
wr-women-news-sevens wr-news wr-women-news wr-news-asia wr-news-sevens
Japan sevens chief hopes Tokyo Olympics continues cycle of success
With 50 days to go until the men’s final of the Olympic rugby sevens competition, Japan head coach Kensuke Iwabuchi looks forward to competing on home soil in Tokyo.
Amanda Cox
wr-women-news-regions wr-women-news-coach wr-news Women's Development Women's wr-women-news Feature Womens
Amanda Cox on the fight for more female representation in refereeing
We caught up with the referee coach to discuss her life in rugby and find out what needs to be done to create more opportunities for women to become match officials.
Photo of the France and Tunisia sides during a training camp at Marcoussis
Olympics wr-news Women's wr-women-news wr-news-olympics-repechage-teams sevens Team News Womens
The "Rebellious" preparing to fly the Tunisian flag in Monaco
As we reach 50 days to the rugby sevens kick-off at the Tokyo Olympics, the Tunisian women's rugby sevens team prepares to play their second World Rugby Sevens Repechage in Monaco, with ambitions beyond Tokyo 2020.
Argentine 7s captain Gimena Mattus attacks during the 2019 Pan American Games.
wr-women-news-sevens wr-news wr-women-news Feature wr-news-sevens Preview Olympic Qualifying
Argentina looking to end a difficult two years with history at Monaco sevens showdown
Argentina won't be flying into Monaco's Olympic Repechage as favourites, but that isn't stopping their dreams of Tokyo, as coach Tomás Bongiorno and captain Gime Mattus tell World Rugby.
Germany win Lodz Sevens 2019
wr-news-sevens wr-women-news-sevens wr-news wr-women-news
Germany look to new generation to defend Rugby Europe men’s sevens crown
Germany men’s sevens head coach Damian McGrath speaks to World Rugby ahead of the start of the Rugby Europe Championship Sevens Series.
HSBC New Zealand Sevens 2020 - Women's
sevens-news wr-women-news-sevens Women's sevens-news-women sevens wr-news-sevens sevens-news-feature sevens-news-olympic wr-news-olympics-w Olympics wr-news wr-women-news Tournament News Womens
Emilee Cherry: Five memorable moments from the career of a rugby sevens pioneer
Following the announcement that Cherry will hang up her boots prior to the Tokyo Olympics, we recap some of her best moments in the green and gold of Australia.