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Is Carlin Isles the world's fastest rugby player?

BY Grant Constable  ·  Wednesday Dec 12, 2012

This is the video everyone is talking about. In the last day it’s spread across the net at a prolific pace, which is fitting considering the speed this guy gets around the field. From track to rugby, the USA’s Carlin Isles is making waves on the Sevens circuit.

If you haven’t seen it yet, below is a look at the man that many are calling the fastest rugby player on the planet. It seems early days to make such statements but the stats don’t lie. With wind at his back, he reportedly has a personal best of 10.13 seconds for the 100m dash, which would have seen him qualify for the semi finals at the London Games earlier this year.

The 23-year-old was within the top 36 sprinters in the USA in 2012 and while he’s made a change from athletics to rugby, it looks as though he may yet be on course for the Olympics, as part of Team USA at Rio 2016, where rugby sevens will make a long overdue comeback.

Having taken up rugby just a few months back, he shone on debut at the Gold Coast sevens. He actually got into the sport after a Youtube session led to him contacting another USA player, who had only good things to say about rugby, even though Isles says he didn’t know of 7’s then.

“The only thing I knew of was 15s, and then I saw 7s, and I was like, I’d be in heaven in this sport.”

USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville was contacted and after seeing Isles’ sprint stats, recommended him to Eagles Sevens coach Alex Magleby. From there things snowballed and very soon after he was fast-tracked into the USA squad, with the Gold Coast Sevens in mind.

“I had a track career and now I am playing rugby and for that I am very thankful. When I see all the room on the pitch, it’s like Christmas to me. When we train, the width of the pitch is a little shorter, so I was like, ‘I can run all day around these guys’,” he said.
 
“I learn fast and I work hard and adapting from track to a team sport was an easy thing for me. Tracking is just all about you and doing your thing, but I’m a team player and I know that with my gift I can contribute a lot.

“I found the speed of the game a little frustrating at first. There are a lot of things that you have to remember to do. It’s the little things and if you don’t do them right, you will have a problem. Rugby is very tough mentally as well as physically. I am finding it OK though.

“Of course, everybody needs to work on their game no matter how long they have been doing it, but I’m excited about what the future can bring,” said Isles.

While Sevens is very different to fifteens in terms of the size of players, Isles is no beast at a fairly diminutive 5′ 8″ and 72kg. He isn’t afraid of mixing it up though, saying he thrives on the contact.

“I love contact. I’m good at tackling. I love tackling. Rugby fits me perfectly, because I love tackling, I love running fast, I love running past people and I love being the fastest.

“Being able to play on this stage on the World Series and travel the world is something really special and I want to thank my coach and my team mates. I want to make my speed work for me and for the team and I’m still learning as I go, it’s very exciting,” said Isles.

In Sevens there is naturally a lot more space to exploit so you shouldn’t compare the two, but when it comes to horses for courses, Isles is one of the most exciting prospects to come out of the USA.

Here is a quick look at some of his best bits in recent times, with more of the same on the horizon.

Time: 2:42
Credit: Rugbyplease, the IRB, and Rugbymag

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