Welsh Olympian Jasmine Joyce has backed the idea of a unified Great Britain sevens women’s side which should happen “sooner rather than later” to boost the prospects of a gold medal at next year’s Tokyo Games.
Last week presentations were submitted to the board of UK Sport in the hope that the funding agency would support a merger, with Bill Sweeney, the chief executive of the Rugby Football Union, highlighting that coronavirus had been a “catalyst” for the proposal.
England are the only home nation to fund a professional women’s sevens side on the World Rugby Sevens Series and Joyce insists joining forces would provide much-needed opportunities for female players within Wales and Scotland’s ranks.
“It’s really important for that to happen, especially for us as women,” said Joyce, who is one of just three Welsh women named in the initial 24-strong GB Women's Sevens squad for Tokyo 2020 in February.
“Wales and Scotland aren’t on the world circuit, so for us as players, we’re not getting the exposure of playing against the highest teams.
“It’s really important that it happens sooner rather than later, just so we’re able to prepare as Team GB, who are going to compete in the Olympics, rather than us training as Wales, Scotland and England and coming together on a few camps before we compete on the biggest stage in the world.
“If we did come together as all three nations to compete on the world series, we would have such a good chance of winning gold at the Olympics. The players who are in the squad at the moment are world class and all we need is some contact time together.”
Joyce was part of the inaugural Team GB women’s sevens side captained by England’s Emily Scarratt, which finished fourth at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Scarratt has since committed herself to the XVs game with the help of the RFU, which remains the only home nation to run separate professional XVs and sevens women’s programmes.
The Welsh Rugby Union is yet to contract any of its XVs or sevens women's players, but that has not deterred Joyce, who has set her sights on competing in both the delayed Games and the XV’s World Cup in New Zealand next year.
Just 40 days separate the two events, but having signed earlier this month for Bristol Bears in the Premier 15s, England’s elite women’s rugby union tier, the 24 year-old is confident she can prime herself for both codes.
“I’m so young and I just want to achieve as much as I can during my rugby career,” said Joyce, who juggles rugby with a full-time career as a personal trainer.
“The Olympics is definitely within my range at the moment, I just want to go to as many Olympics, as many World Cups and get as many caps as I can. For us to be full-time, that would be ideal.”