Australia rule out Cooper's Sevens selection for Rio

Reuters News
Posted: May 05, 2016 7:16 AM

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Quade Cooper's Olympic dreams were dashed on Thursday when the former Wallabies flyhalf was ruled out of selection for Australia's Rugby Sevens side at this year's Rio Games.

Capped 58 times, Cooper was part of the Wallabies squad that finished runners-up at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. He then signed up to Australia's Sevens program, seeking a spot on their Olympic squad.

Cooper was given permission by his French club Toulon to be part of the Las Vegas and Vancouver rounds of the World Series for Australia but it was not enough.

The 28-year-old was not sufficiently prepared in order to make the cut for the Olympics in August, Australian Sevens head coach Andy Friend said in a statement.

"There's no doubt Quade is a quality player, but put simply, we just haven't had the opportunity to work with him as much as we would have liked over the past five months," Friend said.

"Each day I have a group of 20-plus players working on different structures and patterns of play and I don't think we would have got the very best out of Quade had we just thrown him into a tournament with limited preparation -- particularly for an event as momentous as the Olympics."

Rugby Sevens makes its Olympic debut at the Aug. 5-21 Games. The last time rugby featured at an Olympics was in the 1924 Games in Paris, where the United States beat France for gold.

New Zealand-born Cooper found it hard to make the switch, as was evident from his struggles during the World Series tournament, and was left out of the final two rounds in Paris and London this month.

"As many players have found out throughout this season's World Series, it is no easy task to transition from fifteens to the Sevens form of the game," Friend added.

"Although we are still a few months out from the Games, I think it offers the fairest outcome for everyone by making the call now. Quade can channel his energies into Toulon, while we can enter the next phase of our preparations for Rio knowing the direction we want to take."

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; Editing by Ossian Shine and Mark Trevelyan)