The Ireland Rugby Sevens could potentially face the fastest man in rugby in next week.
Usain Bolt’s attempts to swap athletics for football may have ultimately failed, but hopes are high for Trae Williams.
Williams, one of the fastest sprinters in Australian history, will make his international rugby sevens debut for Australia in next week’s World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai.
The 22-year-old switched sports from athletics to rugby in May ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, just 10 days after representing Australia at the world relays tournament in Japan.
Williams will now start against Scotland in Australia’s first match of the tournament in Pool B, a group which also contains Ireland and the USA.
‘Quadzilla’ has a 100 metre personal best of 10.10 seconds, ranking him fifth on the Australian all-time list, and has run 200 metres in 20.83 seconds.
“I have full faith that I could have broken the ten second barrier,” Williams has since said.
“I had a bit of injury this year heading into nationals and that affected me, but if I had continued to train until the next Olympics I could have gone sub-10. But that’s fine. I am just focussing on rugby now and running for the team.”
The Queenslander came third in the 100 metre race at the Youth Olympics in 2014, winning the first men’s 100 metre medal by an Australian since Hec Hogan at the 1956 Olympics.
In 2017, Williams won the national 100 metre title, and competed in the 2017 IAAF World Championships, before successfully defending his national title last year.
He was recruited by Australia men’s sevens coach Tim Walsh and assistant Steve Hoiles after Hoiles went to scout some of the country’s fastest sprinters.
The fact that Williams had previously played rugby union and rugby league in his school days and trialled with Australian National Rugby League (NRL) teams the Brisbane Broncos and North Queensland Cowboys before committing to athletics, made the proposition of signing the 22-year-old even more enticing.
Williams has reportedly impressed in training, and will now rival American Carlin Isles as the fastest man in rugby.
Ohio native Isles – who set a record of 10.13 seconds in the 100 metre sprint at Ashland University – is regarded by many as the fastest player in rugby sevens.
Isles’ rugby career began in 2012, and the American has already amassed 185 tries in 233 games since then.
We can expect something akin to Speedy Gonzales engaging in a foot-race with Roadrunner when Australia meet the USA in their final Pool B match.
The bad news for the players in the Ireland squad is that they’ll have to face the two fastest men in world rugby in the space of a few days.
Australia are currently number seven in the world, with Ireland ranked in 16th position.
The USA are ranked second behind Fiji, making them strong favourites for the group, while Scotland sit in 10th place.