Fantasy Rugby: British Olympians XV

As the attention of the sporting world turns to London 2012 this week, we thought a British Olympic XV would be in order.

Here’s a fine looking team made up of some of Britain’s finest athletes and competitors that could be a match for anyone, with Steve Redgrave captaining the side.

Steve Redgrave

1. Audley Harrison
A handy candidate at loosehead to shore up the scrum, and won’t be afraid to get stuck in around the field. Concerns over his temperament will be allayed by his reluctance to throw punches.

2. Steve Backley
His stature suits the hooker position superbly, and he’s got a pretty good arm for throwing into the lineout.

3. Geoff Capes
A fearsome proposition at tighthead, Capes’ strength will ensure the scrum is rock solid and doesn’t take a backward step.

4. Luol Deng
The giant basketball hero will win lineout ball for fun, and his rangy physique and delicate hands should enable a significant contribution in the loose.

5. Matthew Pinsent
Pinsent can act as the enforcer alongside Deng, adding bulk and power in the scrum’s engine room.

6. Chris Hoy
The sheer power of Hoy will make him a master in close contact areas, and he’ll be immovable over the ball at the breakdown. Strength in the legs should offer a forceful carrying option, staying on his feet whilst support arrives.

7. James Cracknell
The fitness and tenacity of Cracknell should serve him well as he relentlessly strives to be first at everything, including to the breakdown, while his height will offer a useful lineout option.

8. Steve Redgrave (capt)
One of the greatest Olympians of all time will provide composure at the back of the scrum, with explosive power and a wise old head in a Dean Richards-esque approach to the game.

9. Ben Ainslie
Deceptively strong, but slight enough for the scrum-half role, Ainslie will link backs with forwards. Sailors are renowned for barking orders and staying calm under pressure, and with a fair wind, he could become a fine number nine.

10. Daley Thompson
His mastery of so many different sporting disciplines suggests that he has the all-round ability required of a modern fly-half. Strength and pace and legendary moustache will all hold him in good stead in the playmaker role.

11. Eric Liddell
Won Olympic Gold in the 400m in 1924, and also won 7 caps for Scotland on the wing in 1922 and 1923. Pace to burn on the outside and a proven aptitude for the game.

12. John Regis
A sprinter with significant bulk, he could be the quickest ball-carrying inside centre in world Rugby. Footballing cousins suggest that he could offer a useful kicking option.

13. Derek Redmond
Redmond’s prowess at running the bends of an athletics track should mean we see some delightful attacking arcs that see him glide past defenders. Will also galvanise the team in adversity and instil a never-give-in attitude.

14. Seb Coe
Another legendary Olympian that had to make the team, Coe’s sprint endurance should see him cause opposition defenders plenty of trouble in the final stages of matches. Leadership skills could also be depended upon.

15. Linford Christie
Christie’s speed off the mark, pace over short distances and a potentially ferocious hand-off will offer a dangerous counter-attacking threat at full-back. Would need to work on lines of attack to avoid running straight ahead every time.

Coach: Sir Clive Woodward: Who else?

What do you think? With plenty of competition for places, let us know who you think is missing.

21 thoughts on “Fantasy Rugby: British Olympians XV

  1. Cracking team Hutch, hard to argue with most of that. My only comments would be that I’ve always seen Hoy as a crash ball winger in a similar manner to a Pacific Islander. Also, no room for Fraudley in my team, perhaps Duncan Goodhew who at least looks a bit like a prop?

    1. I think Hoy is versatile enough to use as a 6 but also crashing the ball up from the backline from a short lineout perhaps. Versatile player and ideal squad man.

      Loosehead was a tricky one. I had Fatima Whitbread in there, but Googled a picture of her and she looks more like a back these days.

      Maybe one of the Team GB shot-putters will emerge in 2012 to claim the spot, and there’s extra motivation now that they know there’s a place in this team up for grabs.

  2. Audley Harrison is 6ft 8 not sure he’s the best fit at 1. She may be a women but surely Fatima Whitbread would be a better option there? Also Think Seb is a bit too light, Roger Black would add a bit more bulk and speed!

    On the subs bench would have Pinset as back row cover, Tom Daley as 9 cover. Dean Macey should get in there somewhere for his versitility aswell!

  3. Nigel Walker and Ken Jones were two Welsh Olympians who actually made it on to the wing for Wales.

    Ken Jones famously scored the last winning try against the All Blacks for Wales , he held a gold medal for a few hours too after receivig it for the sprint relay but had it taken back off him when the USA team were reinstated following disqualification so he “only ” had a silver .

    There is a young lad in this years Olympics GB team in the discus who is about 21 stone and can run a 100 metres in just over 11 seconds who was up for a rugby career until he took up the discus about 2 years ago . Would make George North look undernourished .

    1. These sound like marvellous additions to the squad, thanks Pontylad. I’d forgotten Nigel Walker – definitely should be in contention.

  4. Lawrence Okoye is the lad you’re thinking of PontyLad – he’s 6’6, 21 stone and runs a 10.97 100m… he’s also doing law at Oxford, and he’s gone from never having tried the sport to being the number 4 discuss thrower in the world in two years… absolutely astonishing athlete… can you imagine what sort of rugby player he might have been?

    1. That’s him I remember reading he was 20 stone as a sixth former as I was about half that weight as a schoolboy player myself (I’ve put on a few stone since all muscle of course :-) ) then I can imagine the impact he would have had.Could be one of the best discus guys ever as he is still very much learning the event.

  5. according to wikipedia, in his youth Capes could run the 200 in 23 seconds. what a prospect!

    Need to find a better loose head, Audley too tall and gangly.

    1. For loosehead I’d nominate Brian Jacks who got a bronze in judo butwas more famous was as a sporting Superstars Champion with records in squat thrusts and parallel dips .

  6. Loosehead prop problem solved. The late great Elvis Gordon. 23 stone Judoka, 3 time olympian world champs silver medalist and European champ.

  7. No room for Cavendish? He would be perfect for scrum half… quick off the mark, strong and if he can direct a 8-man train in the Tour, he can direct an 8-man pack.

    I’d also like to see a place for Vicky Pendleton…not sure about a valid reason yet

  8. I know he has a slightly jaded history with the drugs ban, but have you seen the muscle mass on sprinter Dwain Chambers? That man screams crash centre or wing and still made the 100m semis!

    1. Agree as a rugby fan, but can’t escape the niggle at the back of my mind that sports like football, tennis and rugby shouldn’t be there as the Olympics isn’t the pinnacle for these sports.

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