A year ago Jermaine Olasan’s only involvement with rugby was through his TV set, but now the Londoner has his eyes set on an international sevens call-up after starring in the inaugural 24/Sevens competition.
Olasan, who plays 15s for Richmond, helped his Seventy7s side win the competition with a 19-12 win over Second City Stunts at Allianz Park, home of European Champions Saracens.
Run by England Rugby, 24/Sevens is an exciting new community sevens series that aims to grow rugby and increase participation among men and women in clubs.
England Rugby hosted the final of both the men and women’s competitions, all of whom had to beat the best in their region to progress.
And for the men’s player of the tournament, the sky is the limit after he dominated the opposition with his lightening speed and brute strength.
“It is a really special feeling. This time last year I was not playing rugby, I had not played in six years so to get this accolade so quickly is great,” he said.
“I stopped playing rugby because I was better at long jump.
“When I left school at 18 I was the number one ranked long jumper for my age group in the country and I was off to the World Junior Championships later that year.
“I was probably the same height as I am now but 15kg lighter. I would love to be able to represent my country again – that is the big goal.”
Less than two weeks now remain until the Olympic Games get underway in Rio where rugby sevens makes its Games debut, with Team GB competing in both the men’s and women’s competition.
And after strutting his stuff in the national final of the 24/Sevens tournament, Olasan has been rewarded with a trip to see the England sevens side when they play later this year.
“This is our third tournament in a row here and so to cap it off with another win here is amazing, and something I will always remember,” he said.
“The tournament has been a lovely stepping stone in terms of how the quality improved. This tournament here was close, one bounce of the ball would have swung it their way.
“To get to Dubai is going to be amazing. I can definitely get the time off work for it.
“Even though I was not playing rugby until recently, I was always a fan but to have got to this stage so quickly is surprising.”
England Rugby 24/Sevens, a new exciting grassroots sevens competition for all rugby teams, welcoming anyone who just wants to pick up a ball and run, for fun or glory.
Visit www.englandrugby.com/24sevens to get involved.