New Zealand rugby legend and Dubai Sevens spokesperson talks to Time Out
You’ve played a lot of Barbarians (All Star) rugby. Can you see Dubai as a possible venue for a Barbarians game? Those matches against international teams are a way to promote the game, and obviously Dubai is as good a venue as anywhere, particularly because of the resources – the weather’s good, it’s convenient for both southern-hemisphere and northern-hemisphere teams, and people here love sport. We see this at the Sevens, the tennis and the golf.
Is this good for rugby? It’s good in terms of promoting the game, whether in Hong Kong, in Dubai, in the Mile High Stadium in Denver. We’re very young as a professional sport and these are all avenues where we can generate income without harming the game. The Dubai Sevens is another fantastic vehicle by which we can promote the game.
The Commonwealth Games has just finished. How important is the Commonwealth rugby sevens tournament? I know a lot of players who have played in the Commonwealth Games, and they hold their gold medal in high regard. But no disrespect, the Olympics is the next level for rugby [rugby sevens will become an Olympic event at the 2016 Rio Games] and it’s also such a global sporting event – the biggest. What’s great is that it’s not just the top 10 or 20 rugby-playing nations in the world [at the Olympics]; the little countries – the Kenyas – also have a real opportunity because they can compete at this level. I think we’ll see more unions, more countries, invest more money into the sport in future.
Of the current crop of All Blacks, are there any who will break your record of 92 test caps? Yes, I think so – there are quite a few hovering around that mark. Richie McCaw is on around 88 or 89 games. But for me, to be honest, it’s just a number. Richie is an unbelievable player, captain and a great All Black.
Which current players from the northern hemisphere would get into Sean Fitzpatrick’s world XV? Off top of my head? I don’t know… there’s Lewis Moody, Brian O’Driscoll, Martin Williams, and there are some wonderful French players.
Okay, we have to ask: Are New Zealand actually going to win the World Cup next year? It’s about time! I spent some time with the All Blacks in South Africa this year and they’re playing the best rugby of anyone at moment. I’m not a believer that you peak in between World Cups; I think that’s rubbish.
So, can we expect you back here for the Dubai Sevens? Oh yes.