Kelly Brazier “pumped” ahead of potential Olympic-Rugby World Cup double

We caught up with the two-time Rugby World Cup winner, who is hoping to play at both Tokyo 2020 and New Zealand 2021.

Kelly Brazier has admitted playing in an Olympic Games and home Rugby World Cup in the space of two months would be a dream come true.

Brazier is part of the Black Ferns Sevens squad that is currently preparing for Tokyo 2020, and bidding to go one better than the silver medal they won in Rio five years ago.

The gold medal match of the Olympic women’s sevens tournament is scheduled to take place on 31 July, just seven weeks before Rugby World Cup 2021 gets under way on New Zealand’s North Island.

Hosts New Zealand are billed to headline the opening day against Australia at Eden Park on 18 September, and two-time Rugby World Cup winner Brazier is excited for the tournament.

“I'm absolutely pumped, to be honest, to have a World Cup here in New Zealand. [To] showcase to our country a bit more of the women's game,” she told World Rugby.

“To go to the Olympics, which is the biggest sporting event in the world, and then back it up eight weeks later by having a home Rugby World Cup, it kind of sounds like a dream, to be honest. 

“If the chance happens to be able to be on Eden Park, and hopefully get a gold at both, would just probably be something unreal and probably top off some of the highlights of my career.”

Caught by the buzz

Brazier is cautious, though, not to look too far ahead and admits “there are still discussions to be had” about whether she will be able to compete at both tournaments.

“My focus at the moment is the Olympics. And then, if we're able to do both then, yeah, I would be the first person to put my hand up to be there. 

“But, it's probably out of my control and I'll just wait and see what happens.”

Although Brazier does not know yet whether she will be able to play in a fourth Rugby World Cup, she has been caught up in New Zealand 2021 fever.

Brazier was a guest at the RWC 2021 Draw in Auckland last November, and witnessed first-hand the momentum that is building ahead of the first Rugby World Cup to be held in the southern hemisphere.

“Even walking into the room, it just had this real buzz and energy about it,” she said. “Then, actually, the Black Ferns had a camp down here [last month] and the same, just the mood amongst this squad, it's massive, the excitement. 

“People are talking about it everywhere. So, I think it's one to look forward to.”

Coaching ambition

The next 18 months will be busy for Brazier, with the Commonwealth Games and Rugby World Cup Sevens scheduled for 2022.

“Four gold medals would be pretty, pretty unreal,” she admitted. But, looking further ahead, the playmaker is already planning for life beyond playing.

Brazier has completed Level 1 and Level 2 coaching courses, while she has gained experience with the Bay of Plenty U18 girls, enjoyed a stint in Japan and concedes she regularly picks the brains of her own coaches.

“I'm always sort of in their ears,” she said, “asking what they do, strategies, and trying to learn different things because I guess in coaching there's no wrong or right way. 

“It's just learning as much as I can off of as many different people and making my own sort of philosophy.”

Brazier has no preference as to whether her coaching path bends towards sevens or 15s, but she does have one firm ambition: to be the first female head coach of a Black Ferns team.

“I love the tactical side and coming up with ways to beat what our coaches are coming up with,” Brazier said. 

“So, I've always been interested in [coaching] and that side of the game. And, I guess in a way, giving back [and] sharing my experiences with players that will come through. 

“So, yeah, that is definitely what I want to do once my career finishes, is try to get into the coaching and that sort of role. 

“But yeah, at this stage, I don't really know when that will be. The body's feeling good, the mind is good and I'm still loving being out on the field. So, for the time being I'm just making the most of it.”

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