Wednesday Dec 12, 2012 Is Carlin Isles the world's fastest rugby player?

Is Carlin Isles the world's fastest rugby player?
56
Comments

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

56 Comments

  •  browner
    browner

    Agree with Nin, it'll be his "transition speed"that gives him the advantage . He'll learn-all top rugby players go through periods of learning & development .......... Shane Williams was a scrum half , ishi123 - do you think he's never had a big hit in American Football, my money is wagered he'll be fine. I guess time will tell .....we're all watching

    Reply
  •  ishi123
    ishi123

    This is guy is rapid, no doubting that but I can see his career ending with ONE.BIG.HIT. It will happen at some stage. How will he recover is the question?

    Reply
  •  stubby
    stubby

    because no REAL rugby player has ever lost the ball in contact. Or conversely anyone who loses the ball in contact cannot be a REAL rugby player.

    Reply
  •  joeythelemur
    joeythelemur

    Didn't know internet chinese whispers were hand-timed. Especially when run at a huge, almost certainly electronically-timed Texas Relays. http://www.flotrack.org/article/11741-RESULTS-2012-Texas-Relays Not sure your point though, since the rest of your post suggests you think he's for real.

    Reply
  •  joeythelemur
    joeythelemur

    Exactly SpencaH.

    Reply
  •  joeythelemur
    joeythelemur

    See, I think most of what you say is true, but when you say "lack of handling skills", that makes no sense to me. How do you know he doesn't have those skills or cannot refine/develop them? Everyone wants to be a pundit and predict from one highlight clip whether Isles is the real deal for 7s or 15s, but why? He's an exciting player, one who people are most likely to watch closely because his speed suggests something could happen each time he touches the ball. I hope he takes this solid start to his rugby career and not only develops himself, but also inspires some other young people to take up rugby.

    Reply
  •  joeythelemur
    joeythelemur

    If you really wanted to know, Google is your friend. He was one of the top HS running backs in Ohio. http://www.maxpreps.com/athletes/T_m0EljuHk2pgLJBJuQ8TQ/football-fall-07/stats-carlin-isles.htm Not sure about college, but the kid could play.

    Reply
  • "Nothing, pace that's it"...what does that say about you at this stage? Been on any RD videos lately? In any case I don't agree at all, the guys got; good work ethic, timing, intelligent running lines, decent fend, safe hands and a good step....AND he has blistering pace. In fact he's on the 7's circuit scoring tries against South Africa and New Zealand among others after a couple of months in the game. Let's give credit where it's due shall we?

    Reply
  • I might be wrong, but I'm pretty sure he never played american football, he was a track specialist and didn't even go for the combines. As I said though, I might be wrong

    Reply
  •  thunor
    thunor

    They gave him a short trial stint, but didn't really give him a chance for financial reasons seemingly. However, yes, his fastest 100m time, after having some wiped for drugs offences, is 9.97s; in more recent years he's run consistently ~10s. So, significantly faster than this chap, but in RL rather than RU.

    Reply
  •  browner
    browner

    Didn't Dwain Chambers play for Castleford .... doesn't he have a faster 100m time?

    Reply
  •  beauknows
    beauknows

    Beau knows lots of things, nothing is not among them

    Reply
  •  jimothy
    jimothy

    Who looks like an I'd 10 t now. He plays for the Stomers duh. Sorry, they do pick crap players. :-)

    Reply
  •  jimothy
    jimothy

    You missed 'Nothing' off the end of your user name! No hate, just calling it like it is.

    Reply
  •  jimothy
    jimothy

    You're right SA and the Bulls only ever pick $h1t players!!!!!! You definitely have an Id 10 t complex!!!!

    Reply
  •  jimothy
    jimothy

    Please can I have the lottery numbers for this weekend as you can clearly see the future! 'Core skills will only get you so far' yes a WC and the most time spent as the worlds number 1 side! NZ have often (DC in particular) attributed their success to mastering the basics! Mike Catt complained because English clubs don't concern themselves with the basics enough! Until England beat NZ many people said Manu lacked the basic skills and look what happened there! Did this guy sleep with your mum or something? You really seem to dislike this guy based on very little evidence?

    Reply
  •  katman
    katman

    Aplon a let down? I'm sorry, but you appear unable to tell your rugby arse from your backline elbow. He's been sensational for the Stormers for many seasons now, and would be for the Boks too if given a chance. So you saw one video clip where he got clobbered dizzy and now you are an expert on the player? Doesn't work like that.

    Reply
  •  beauknows
    beauknows

    He's quick! But he'll become irrelevant just and fast* as her became relevant (Hehe see what i did there... i know im a sneaky bastard) No hate, just calling it like it is.

    Reply
  •  ncharlton0119
    ncharlton0119

    Best post on RD to date. I'm still laughing about that nugget. :D

    Reply
  •  spencah
    spencah

    "u can not say he does ok at the top level at all" - -Have you actually watched any of the Southern Hemisphere rugby at all or any of the SA internationals OR any of the Lions tests in the last 5 years? His stats would suggest otherwise... As to the rest of you're ill informed comment: Smashed? I can think of one, from Ashton. A high ball that he not only kept his eyes on taking the catch but he took the hit he knew was coming AND didnt knock it on and the ball was retained. And he was up and fine after. Knocked out? Once! And are you seriously saying that his size made him vulnerable?? It was an elbow to the jaw from a team mate! Don't care if you're Henry Tuilagi, you're going down! I think I speak for all when I say that you sir are Limited and useless!

    Reply
  •  stroudos
    stroudos

    Cracking post mate.

    Reply
  •  9to15
    9to15

    Gio Aplon what a let down, u can not say he does ok at the top level at all. how many videos online of him getting smashed and knocked out. the guy has the biggest heart but without the bulk ur limited. not useless but limted.

    Reply
  •  9to15
    9to15

    pace is great until.... you get smashed and lets face it he will eventually get smashed. when you have a stand out skill on a rugby pitch you become a target, i dont care what anyone else says its the truth. he should stay at 7`s its where guys like that belong so more power to him for his pace but then again, what else can you say about him? nothing. pace thats it.

    Reply
  •  spencah
    spencah

    ~70kgs : hits like a man posessed and runs lines that could cut through butter! Yet a bias Bulls coach wont play him for SA because the nugget that is Sideshow bob somehow holds the 15 jersey instead....madness!

    Reply
  •  spencah
    spencah

    If we took that approach with every new kid on the block, no one would ever get mentioned and talent would depart unnoticed like chaff in the wind rather like Rupeni your post would suggest. And as for everyone saying, they will learn, they will shut him down, try shutting down a cheetah on redbull. I predict a riot! But yes, still early days for him so lets continue to watch this space*

    Reply
  •  frenchie
    frenchie

    @ Roscoe ...Or Shane Williams

    Reply
  •  pretzel
    pretzel

    Wow way to conjure up further bullshit browner... "dispel the belief that all 7's players have to evolve into 15's players" Which part of my initial comment stated anything of the sort? I don't deny that rugby has; in some parts, changed for the better. However the ruck part of the game has CLEARLY gotten worse.... Introduce a set of studs to someone PURPOSELY lying in the way, or to a hand purposely playing with the ball and surprise surprise they tend to stop... When did rugby become "fast/conditioned/skillful/powerful/athletic"? I believe that came a little bit earlier than the "don't put boots on someone lying in the way" law...

    Reply
  •  kadova
    kadova

    And don't forget Clerc a 10'3 and Palisson at 10'5. Not too bad :)

    Reply
  •  brawnybalboa
    brawnybalboa

    Recently we saw a failed attempt for a more accomplished sprinter to try a different sport: Dwayne Chambers after his ban from the IAAF tried his hand as a WR for the Hamburg Sea Devils and as a Winger for Castleford Tigers in Rugby League. Chambers could not get onto the gridiron for the Sea Devils due to his poor hand eye co-ordination, and against Castleford Tigers totally lacked the cardio fitness to get up to his sub-10 second personal best. The difference here is the fact that Carlin Isle is not only a gifted athlete, but is also a talented sportsman, as seen here by his natural elusiveness and footwork on the field, not to mention a decent little fend. Although Isle played football in college, he played for Ashland University, which is a NCAA division II team (bearing in mind there are 271 teams in division I conferences does not make them a good programme), he would not necessarily have been much more than a decent player (nowhere near NFL standard). In regards to football players (NFL or from a good football programme like USC), the ability to excel at 7's would vary player to player. A perfect example would be Darrius Heyward Bey (Raiders WR) ran the 100 in 10.4 seconds, yet can hardly excel as a WR running basic routes, whereas DeSean Jackson (WR for the Philadelphia Eagles) ran a 10.40 and could beat any man in a one on one. Despite all the talent though, I severely doubt they would make much more than explosive wingers due to the lack of handling skills.

    Reply
  •  matt
    matt

    @Ottawa, If other teams shut down the wide space then that just gives all the more room for the other players to run through gaps (even if he can't do it himself), pace like this makes other players look better and forces a team to spread themselves over the entire width of the field at all times

    Reply
  •  matt
    matt

    I fully agree with David, acceleration is the killer, quite right with Ryder and Robinson, Shane Williams too, if you can get up and go in a clever way you are deadly to any team. Pretzel's post shows us that this sort of pace is really nothing too new, although, lets just remember that every single one of those players have had stunning careers built on their raw abilities.

    Reply
  •  browner
    browner

    I expected you to find it hard......Pratzel me old mucker, the thrust of my reply was to dispel the belief that all 7's players have to evolve into 15's players - dated thinking !.... [a year round 7's circuit awaits].... just as dated as your championing slashing someones back with your studs, cos he's on the floor below you/deserved it .... Modern sport, needs modern thinkers, the stamp & brutal brigade need to get in a cage and mash each other , rugby's moved on .....fast/conditioned/ skillful/powerful/ athletic get on board, or sit with the other cobwebs in the corner reminising amongst misshaped finger joints .... keep em coming matey lad xx

    Reply
  •  matt
    matt

    Ngwenya is hardly a tank, Habana was little bigger when he started. It seems to be that if you have the right competitive mindset, as I'm sure a world class competitive sprinter will, as well as the raw physical ability, then you can get the attention and training required to become world class

    Reply
  •  joeythelemur
    joeythelemur

    Fair enough. Too bad Howlett's too old now to see them match up.

    Reply
  •  joeythelemur
    joeythelemur

    You say that now, he's only been playing rugby for 12 weeks. No one here has any idea if "his only attribute is his speed." Why couldn't he be "a great distributor of the ball." He certainly seems to have the ambition and motivation to learn other core skills. He's played American football, so he's taken a few hits. He very well may be a quality player long term, but your instant dismissal of Isles is unbecoming. He's an intriguing player that hasn't earned his stripes yet, but just the same, you can't just write him off because he's new to the scene.

    Reply
  •  jimothy
    jimothy

    12 weeks playing and he's already better than everyone commenting here! Must be some red faces typing away on those keyboards folks!!! Tackling = taught skill, passing = taught skill, kicking = taught skill, running really really fast = natural (alright you can build speed up but those with the real gas just have it). It is amazing how someone comes along with natural talent and people on here instantly pretend they know what they are talking about! In the clip he swaps the ball from his inside to the outside and fends brilliantly. There are players I've seen in the premiership etc who still fail to do this. Rather than pretending you can see into the future let's give the bloke a chance!

    Reply
  •  pretzel
    pretzel

    I agree, thats what I meant, you look at someone who is quick and dodgy like Rokocoko, Cau Cau, and also BIG, and you're really onto a winner, you could argue that A. Tuilagi (the one that plays for Leicester) is a lot slower than these guys (I assume)...so what, he might be "easier" to grab hold of, but then he'll just drag you down the length of the pitch instead... someone like Isles "might" crumble under the extra weight.

    Reply
  •  pretzel
    pretzel

    Thank you for that interesting insight browner.. what was your point again? If he enjoys contact then he may very well consider 15's, both games have their perks... I find it hard to understand whether you're a bit wimpy or whether you just dislike the concept of contact....

    Reply
  •  gonzoman
    gonzoman

    To all the nay-sayers: Isles is an excellent option to have on the paddock for a sevens team. Speed kills. His size isn't really an issue; there are 6 bigger guys on the field for the US...use him as a sweeper at the back on defence, and the gas-man on the wing on attack. To those of you that are lamenting the death of skill in sevens: it takes skill to fix guys enough to get the ball out there; also, the game will evolve new defensive systems to deal with this kind of threat. To those of you worried about how quickly he got into the team: he fits. The team made a selection, and he's scoring tries (and from this clip, it looks like he stopped on too). A national team should be about having the best players on the pitch, not "earning your stripes" through some convoluted seniority/experience matrix...if he is the best wide man in sevens, get him on the pitch. To the rest of the world: watch out for the USA in a few year's time...if this is what they can come up with in 12 weeks, you'd better believe there is more coming. Gotta hand it to the States, when they want to win, they don't muck about. The sport is gaining profile, and as such more and more naturally gifted athletes will take it up. Like any other sport, as it increases in profile globally, you're going to get more and more naturally gifted athletes learning the game. How scary would it be facing a team of Usain Bolts who had learned the game? The giant, fast, fit guys are coming, and they will learn skills. I'm stoked for Rio! We might see some mind-boggling and exciting athletes take the field. I only hope that my country (Canada) is able to keep pace with the growth of the game (so far, so good).

    Reply
  •  silky
    silky

    as long as there are players creating gaps and giving good ball to players like him they will do very well. good luck to the lad, hope all this hype about him hasn't painted a massive bullseye on his chest

    Reply
  •  elvis15
    elvis15

    While no rugby players starts off with all the skills, those same players also don't start in the national 7's team weeks after they start playing. You can teach the skills, and there's no substitute for pace (which he has in spades, aces, diamonds and hearts), but I'd generally consider more development for a player before he earns his first cap. Having said that, if he has enough skill to deserve it (beyond his pace) after those 12 weeks of training, good on him.

    Reply
  •  paimoe
    paimoe

    "I mean Ngwenya the lightest of the bunch is .16 seconds ahead of Rokocoko, but I'd rather have Rokocoko for the added weight." I always feel these tiny gaps between the fastest people are, in the end, unimportant. Sure Ngwenya is quick, but I'd rather 24-second-100m Cory Jane on the right wing.

    Reply
  •  stripe
    stripe

    Nearly as fast as me. :D

    Reply
  •  joeythelemur
    joeythelemur

    I think you're right, he's likely to stay in 7s and become a media star in the US due to the Olympics, no need for him to grind it in 15s. I'm beginning to think that there's real truth to the possibility of the USA getting truly serious about rugby after 2016.

    Reply
  •  joeythelemur
    joeythelemur

    Howlett was fast, but don't discount the difference between 10.5 and 10.13. Seems tiny but those are the margins that make a difference on the wing.

    Reply
  •  benny
    benny

    You can't just put on seven sprinters and expect to win. It might work at first but other teams would figure it out quick enough. You'd potentially have poor defence, poor ball retention at the ruck and other teams would eventually learn to close you down. Was interesting to see the NZ #11 was oblivious and gave him too much space but would have learnt not to do it again. In the same way that a sprinter can just run sideways then straighten to get around a slower player, a bigger player could do the same to smash through a sprinter. Don't worry, skill will prevail. I hope, or us Kiwis have a bleak future

    Reply
  •  cheyanqui
    cheyanqui

    The worse your kicker, the more important it is to get under the posts. Teams like the USA have struggled for years with getting kickers to handle conversions which kickers from other countries can handle. Everyone knows the touchline conversion is tough. But the differentiating factor to me are those that come from between the 5m and 15m lines. For the USA, those kicks are low percentage, but the better countries seem to have a much better success rate. Back to Isles -- his skill set will be valuable no matter what, but especially valuable in the near term (until the USA gets better kickers). -- especially if the 7s events are held in deep try zones!

    Reply
  •  browner
    browner

    ......... and see if he ever makes the transition to 15's or whether he'll stay a 7's star. Hmmnn, lets see........... Go for Gold - check immediate star status - check avoid being buried at the bottom of pne of Pretzels 'friendly' rucks - check earn a decent living outta 7's - check travel the world on the 7's circuit - check avoid 125kg wing monsters running straight over the top of you - check Keep my reutation as MR FAST LEGS - Check IRB to develop the 7's World Cup into a 'multi country jamboree, over 2 weeks. 15's .....Nah.... need more reasons to consider !

    Reply
  • Not sure that's a fair comment. Having played American Football, he must know a great bit more about the general style of play that you might give him credit. Besides, it even says in the preamble that he knew 15s before he knew 7s, and so he knows where the basic idea of 7s comes from. I'm sure there will come a time when opponents learn to take the space out wide and he'll be forced to work on his step and lines. As far as we know, he could be well capable of that but just has only opted to take these wide swooping runs because the opponents leave them open? I'm sure he's got the skills to chip kick or pass a ball

    Reply
  •  browner
    browner

    Watch out 7's World ...The Yanks are serious ..... 2016 Olympics means Gold Medals up for grabs, and USA are seasoned gold medal chasers for sure. I predict a 'raid' on the "almost made it" players from both NFL & Track & field....plus a huge improvement in the take up rate at US Colleges Dan Lyle, was the catalyst, college participation is the key to US rugby ambitions, & when they get it right watch out everyone http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Hjvhq9zH8U

    Reply
  •  guy
    guy

    That guy is lightning quick, no doubt about it. But he definitely doesn't seem to be the most modest guy on the field, if I have to go by the intro of the video that RD wrote. And he loves the physical stuff? Still I suspect that sooner or later he will get absolutely clobbered by some Samoan or Fijian dude. By the way: Dutch ladies sevens have been fast-tracking players from other sports into sevens for some time. It does seem to work. So maybe Sevens can be considered a bit of an individual sport whereas 15's is more a team effort.

    Reply
  •  pretzel
    pretzel

    As RD has stated 7's and 15's are different games, but I do doubt he would be much use at 15's AT THE MOMENT, he appears to exploit the room on the pitch to run around tacklers. If he can introduce a step (maybe he has one already) then it looks like he'll...wow... never mind, I was going to say a bit like a Joe Rokocoko, until I looked up his stats, 6ft2 and 109kg's that guy was a fooking big!!!... anyway...back to Isles, if he gets a step then he'll become much more of a handful. I would echo ncharlton's comment, I would hate to see 7's become a game of running round the corners all the time, I love to see switch moves, dodges and all things that are nasty for to defend, rather than just "give the fast guy the ball"... No idea how accurate these are but: Chavhanga 10.27 - 100m, 85kg Habana 10.4 - 100m, 94kg Ngwenya 10.5 -100m, 84kg Rokocoko 10.66 - 100m, 109kg's Howlett 10.68 - 100m, 93kg's Lomu 10.8 - 100m, 125kg's There are obviously a couple others that slot into that list, and as I said, I'm not 100% sure on the data and there is no way to confirm whether those times were recorded at their published weights, but it gives a bit of an indication. I mean Ngwenya the lightest of the bunch is .16 seconds ahead of Rokocoko, but I'd rather have Rokocoko for the added weight. I'm definitely keen to see more of this guy and see if he ever makes the transition to 15's or whether he'll stay a 7's star.

    Reply
  •  spencah
    spencah

    Not sure that you can object to "low IQ track stars" being fast tracked into the sport when it is happening across the board in 7's and 15's. And not only for speed, but size too! How often are guys just in teams because they are bigger and stronger? So why not fitter/faster? Like it or not the game of 7's has been about speed for a long time...yes we love the skill and finesse that comes with it and we don't want that to disappear, but speed draws the crowds and we are all youtubing for the gas merchants not the double miss-switch-crossfield kick! If this guy was playing for your home nation propelling you up the league table would you still hold to your point?

    Reply
  • What a bullet! And what a fast learner! 12 weeks and he's off at the World Sevens circuit! Cheeky too, allways trying to get aroung players to get behind the posts. As a portuguese, you really understand how valuable but underrated conversions are in 7s and how many times they can take you to a 1 point win. This is actually the game breaking quality dormant in the US through time. They are a nation with a huge sporting tradition, where many people activelly try to get into pro sport but many just fade after failling to get into the NFL, NHL, etc. If rugby there starts evolving at grassroots and they start taping into the natural ability of guys from football, track, lacrosse and all those, they have the potential to be world beaters in 10, 15 years time

    Reply
  •  ncharlton0119
    ncharlton0119

    He is blisteringly quick. I'm just afraid the sort of fast tracking that he has received becomes more common. I would hate to see the "rugby" taken out of rugby 7's by the introduction of what I would call low rugby IQ track stars. I don't want the sport to become a speed race. I find much more entertaining the use of skills like pinpoint accurate kicking or insane passes you never saw coming, not the simple (yet hard to achieve) run faster than everyone else skill that track stars possess. This sport isn't a race. It's a game of skill, finesse, power, precision, mental strength under high pressure and fatigue as well as a game of speed.

    Reply
  •  spencah
    spencah

    Cant doubt that this guys has pace alright! And yes i do love the "we will sort out his defence later" quote but does it really matter in sevens when you can do this? And get lost all the trolls who are gonna moan that he would be eaten alive in 15's.....this isnt 15's its 7's! Faster than Habana? Chavhanga? ngwenya ? Norton?

    Reply

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Is Carlin Isles the world's fastest rugby player? | RugbyDump