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Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Fastest Man In Rugby: Carlin Isles short documentary

A lot has already been said about USA Sevens speedstar Carlin Isles, but thanks to an excellent new short feature by Grantland, we get to learn a bit more about the former track athlete, including a first hand account of his humble upbringing.

Rio 2016 isn't too far off and Olympic hopeful Isles still has his eyes firmly on the prize, despite having had to change the path some time back. After realising that to be the very best of the best in US sprinting was a mammoth challenge, Isles looked at his options.

"As I got closer to almost Olympic trials, there was a point where I felt like if I didn't go to the Olympics, then what? I was being real with myself," Isles said.

What happened next and how he came into rugby is quite a well known story, and since then he has enjoyed time on the IRB Sevens World Series circuit, learning and developing in the process.

He has been thrown in at the deep end however, and as USA Sevens captain Matt Hawkins explained, it's not the ideal way to learn all the ins and outs of rugby.

"If we get guys like Carlin that can absolutely torch people on the field, we'd be stupid not to invite them into our family," said Hawkins, who believes that some grassroots, lower grade rugby may well help to develop Isles' overall game better.

"Carlin is trying to develop on the national team, and for a guy like him, that really doesn't make sense. He's not going to get the basics he really needs to learn and grow.

"I've seen the guys from football come and go. I've seen six or seven guys. They've got great talent, and rugby requires athletic talent. But it also requires intellectual talent. If I tell you tomorrow you're going to speak Spanish, you can't do that," Hawkins added.

For now, it's an uplifting story and an exciting one for US rugby fans, who take great pride in the plaudits Isles has garnered. Fans are realistic however, and while the emergence of a star is a wonderful thing, it'll take time before he reaches his full potential as a well rounded player.

As can be seen in this great documentary short, he has the tenacity and raw talent to get there.

Time: 7:26
Credit: Grantlandnetwork

Posted at 12:07 pm | 25 comments

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Viewing 25 comments

finedisregard July 18, 2013 2:37 pm

I'm warning you friends, there are a lot of very fast guys like this in the US that are doing nothing after they get out of college sports. Some of them weigh 250+. Not everyone can learn rugby but some of them will be able to.

Elite athletes don't play rugby in the US. If they did, cancel Christmas!

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DrG July 18, 2013 3:43 pm

Why what's Christmas got to do with anything?

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wow-jiffy-lube July 18, 2013 3:08 pm

The amount that this guy improves every time he steps on a pitch is phenomenal. He's learning every game and doesn't make the same mistake twice. A small guy but a remarkable athelete who's already a game-changer and just going to get better.

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Guy July 18, 2013 3:26 pm

Great athlete! I wonder how he would do in 15's as a scrumhalf for example. Different ballgame, less space but he does seem to have the right attributes for it.

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WelshOsprey July 18, 2013 4:08 pm

It'd be a massive injustice to rugby if USA win the gold just by using fast players.
From what I've seen, all Carlin does is run sideways

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bnations July 18, 2013 10:01 pm

Well, I don't know if I'd go so far as to call it an injustice, but it would probably suck. For the other teams ;-)

Listen, in all forms of rugby, speed helps. A lot. Certainly in 15s, there's more place for technical skills and size to play a part; especially, as you move closer to the scrum. But speed still helps and can be the final criteria used to determine who makes the match day squad and who doesn't.

Let us speak as men for moment and admit that there's no place for slow(er) guys in the 7s game. There just isn't. It was created especially for the speedy little ones to have a chance at the ball. So, "using fast players" is a feature, not a bug when filling the roster on a 7s squad. Any coach not accepting that will watch in despair as the tries rain down as their opponents "run sideways" for 14 minutes.

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Leadbitter July 20, 2013 5:46 am

What, by running quicker than the opposition and scoring more tries? Shocker. I hear their boxers are hoping to land more punches and the USA basketball team is going for really tall players in a bid to win that. Hopefully the IRB will get involved and put a speed restriction clause into 7s and quick, for all sales.

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Jimbo July 18, 2013 4:51 pm

Good to see him learning his craft with a quality national league 15s side. Unfortunately I think he'd get smashed at higher level. Great to watch though, shame he didn't get much game time at twickers 7s as he looked stiff and covered in tape.

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Guest July 18, 2013 5:25 pm

Always the Welsh kids shitting on everythin eh.

Can we just stop and realize the marketing potential this kid is for rugby America? He's like a good damn viral advertising campaign for USA rugby

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Guy July 18, 2013 8:01 pm

Marketing potential? That depends on how you look at it. It would be wrong to give people the impression that you can be succesfull in rugby by just being fast. To some extend that works in 7s (lots of space) but basicly there is loads more to it.

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This comment has been removed

Guest July 19, 2013 8:28 am

Dave the Dick, your name speaks great volumes.

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dave July 20, 2013 12:04 am

thank you
credit goes to DrG

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bobo July 22, 2013 4:52 am

I don't see much marketing potential. USA would have to win the Olympic Gold in order for this guy to draw any attention in the US, and it is extremely unlikely that this will occur in 2016.

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4LC4TR4Z July 19, 2013 6:14 am

Funny skill for VII.
But could he stand tackles or find spaces in XV ?

Toulon wanted to sign Carlin Isles as soon as this season, to learn the game alongside of Mitchell, Habana, David Smith or Palisson ; with a condition to loan him in second division for testing him at first.

But that didn't make it.

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Nova July 19, 2013 6:22 am

does he have speed.. yes he does.. and lots of it.. is he learning the game at a steady pace.. yes he is.. is he as good as they say he is.. i dont think so..

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ConnachtFan July 19, 2013 11:57 am

Nice lad, hope he progresses to Olympics!

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Chris Jones July 20, 2013 7:52 am

100 metres sprinting does not necessarily translate to 15 man success. Although it was only using the video technology Shane Williams hit top speeds higher than bolt in the final 10 metres of some of his finishes. Modern wingers do have to do lots of 50 metre shuttle runs but that calls on a different kind of conditioning to having to do 1 perfect 100 metre run with a days hours of recovery. With a bit of a Welsh bias Cuthbert was a sprinter, Nigel Walker was an olympic hurdler but didn't shine as a winger and of course Phil Bennett won the commonwealth games 50 metres. Overall existing rugby players are probably better conditioned today than teak athletes for their job at least.

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kevin July 20, 2013 2:40 pm

This guy is the clear example of what the US does, they don't care this guy does not have any rugby culture nor values, the guy showed up (through Google, please), he can run, he didn't know the sport, but what the hell, we are the US we want to be the best at any price, you are on kid. Let's see when that little fella starts getting smashed and injured, hope he keep the speed.
Lame

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Facepalm July 20, 2013 5:27 pm

Phenomenal athlete (obviously) and an incredible advert for rugby in America but could I see him playing 15s? No. That said I heard somewhere Cuthburt only took up rugby at 17 and he's become a lion. So there's plenty of time for him to prove me wrong and I hope he does. Seems like such a great guy as well.

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lg adf July 20, 2013 10:42 pm

he is not a good rugby player... he it is only fast. If he would be in a 15 vs 15 match he would do nothing, he would not have so much space to run. Sorry if my english is not good im from Argentina.

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dave the dick July 21, 2013 5:49 pm

excuse me everyone, but you say he is only fast, one of the basic components of rugby besides size, power, willpower and physicality is speed, this is a running sport, so he's a great runner, that makes him 1/5 a great rugby player, he also had the willpower to become a top quality usa sprinter which means a top spinter almost anywhere else and is now playing at the highest 7 level on a whim, so he's got will power =2/5 a great rugby player, and in order to run fast you need power, so maybe if he loses a little bit of speed and puts on some size he's 3/5 the way of being a great rugby playe but I don't think that's even necessary look at shane williams we all know how unstoppable he was, and he's just starting out, the only conclusion I get from people criticising this guy and usa is jealousy and fear and no i'm not American, thank god but if nfl players start crossing over to rugby for some reason the usa would become a beast of a team specifically in the pack and the centre positions, there are few players in rugby that can rival the speed, size and power of nfl players like Brandon Jacobs, anders Peterson and many others, personally I think it would be a nice change up to the rugby scene and we all know that when the usa starts doing something other countries start to notice, the game of rugby might be changed forever for the better starting with this young lad Ilses who has a bright future

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Reggin July 22, 2013 9:08 am

This is how I started off in rugby. All I could do was run and score tries. I was taught how to do the rest just like him. 5 years down the line still love the game and can pass, catch, kick, step and tackle. People are just hating on America because they see the potential. Not everyone is that fast so if you can teach someone with that much speed how to play like the best of them then you will be laughing.

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ps89 July 25, 2013 8:20 pm

Great athlete. Great speed. Can't argue on that. But if americans think that physicality will bring them on top of rugby world by turning NFL players in rugby 15 they're sadly mistaken. You need brain guys. Till america will have to catch up on others, even on humble teams like Italy they won't do anything special. Physicality can easily be beaten by brain. The french team often proved that. So america, be patient and work your ass..maybe in 20 years will be able to constantly beat european teams. I'd rather see americans good at rugby league.

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