• ‘I would love to have played in Olympics,’ says Academy Member O’Driscoll
  • ‘Knowing there's an Olympic medal on offer, players like Sonny Bill Williams are trying to have a go at Sevens’ – says former Irish captain
  • Laureus content is available for Print and Online use free of charge provided credit is given, for example….‘Brian O’Driscoll speaking to Laureus.com’; please mention the mission and values of Laureus Sport for Good and the work of Academy Members such as Brian O’Driscoll
  • Full interview at https://www.laureus.com/news/brian-odriscoll-interview

DUBLIN, August 1, 2016 – Laureus World Sports Academy Member and Irish rugby legend Brian O’Driscoll predicts that next month’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro can provide the spark that will see rugby take off in China and the United States.

Sevens is a very attractive game. The fact it’s an Olympic sport now heightens it all the more,” said O’Driscoll in an exclusive interview with Laureus.com.

It has the potential to get into countries that aren’t really synonymous with rugby, particularly China and the United States. If it’s big in the Olympics, you know it’s going to be big in those countries. I think there is huge scope for how big the Sevens game can get.

It is also great that a country like Spain is going to get into the Olympics and straight away more people in Spain will get to know rugby,” he added.

O’Driscoll appeared 133 times for Ireland and eight times for the British and Irish Lions. He was captain of Ireland from 2003 until 2012 and also captained the Lions on their 2005 tour of New Zealand.

He says he would have ‘absolutely loved’ to have played in the Olympics, though he added: “It’s phenomenal knowing the workload that’s involved, so it would have needed to be a very, very young Brian O’Driscoll to have been involved in an Olympics.

He also feels the Sevens game is no threat to the traditional Fifteens game. “I think they can feed each other. I think you’ve seen in years gone by that Sevens players essentially wanted to become Fifteens. But now you’re seeing it going the other way knowing that there’s an Olympic medal on offer. Big players like Sonny Bill Williams are all trying to have a go at Sevens.

Earlier this year, Brian O’Driscoll became a member of the Laureus World Sports Academy, an elite group of 60 sporting legends, who support the work of Laureus Sport for Good in helping to improve the lives of millions of young people, through the use of sport in underprivileged areas.

O’Driscoll said: “I’m delighted. I was looking at being able to give something back. I understand the power of what sport has to offer, particularly to young people. I think it breaks down the divide between the wealthy, the poor, the disadvantaged. It’s a real equalizer. It’s a way of forming bonds and friendships with people you don’t know, having a great bit of fun and building self-confidence in people that are in need of being pushed in the right direction.

I think the quality and the power of sport is very, very powerful. If my help in promoting rugby, or maybe another sport, in a disadvantaged area of the world, helps younger people to develop into more confident people that keeps them out of trouble and allow them to enjoy their lives a little bit more, even changing one person’s mindset, would be a huge bonus to me.  


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Laureus is a universal movement that celebrates the power of sport to bring people together as a force for good. Laureus is composed of three core elements - the Laureus World Sports Academy, Laureus Sport for Good and the Laureus World Sports Awards - which collectively celebrate sporting excellence and use sport as the means to promote social change. The first Patron of Laureus was Nelson Mandela. At the inaugural Laureus World Sports Awards in 2000, he said: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.” This has become the philosophy of Laureus; the driving force behind its work. The members of the Laureus World Sports Academy are: Giacomo Agostini, Marcus Allen, Franz Beckenbauer, Boris Becker, Ian Botham, Sergey Bubka, Cafu, Bobby Charlton, Sebastian Coe, Nadia Comaneci, Yaping Deng, Marcel Desailly, Kapil Dev, Mick Doohan, David Douillet, Rahul Dravid, Luis Figo, Emerson Fittipaldi, Sean Fitzpatrick (Chairman), Dawn Fraser, Cathy Freeman, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Mika Häkkinen, Tony Hawk, Maria Höfl-Riesch, Mike Horn, Miguel Indurain, Michael Johnson, Kip Keino, Franz Klammer, Tegla Loroupe, Dan Marino, Yao Ming, Edwin Moses, Nawal El Moutawakel, Li Na, Robby Naish, Ilie Nastase, Martina Navratilova, Alexey Nemov, Jack Nicklaus, Brian O’Driscoll, Alessandro Del Piero, Gary Player, Morné du Plessis, Hugo Porta, Carles Puyol, Raúl, Steve Redgrave, Vivian Richards, Monica Seles, Mark Spitz, Sachin Tendulkar, Daley Thompson, Alberto Tomba, Steve Waugh, Katarina Witt, Li Xiaopeng and Yang Yang. The Laureus Academy Members volunteer their services as global ambassadors for Laureus Sport for Good, which was set up to promote the use of sport as a tool for social change. Laureus Sport for Good addresses social challenges through a worldwide programme of sports related community development initiatives. Since its inception, Laureus has raised over €100 million for projects which have helped to improve the lives of millions of young people. The mission of Laureus Sport for Good is to use sport as a means to combat some of the toughest social challenges facing young people today such as violence and crime, discrimination, unemployment, lack of education and health threats including HIV/AIDS and obesity. The Laureus World Sports Awards is the premier global sports awards honouring the greatest sportsmen and women across all sports each year. The winners are selected by the ultimate sports jury – 60 members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, the living legends of sport honouring the great athletes of today. The Awards are presented at an annual Awards Ceremony, attended by global figures from sport and entertainment, which is broadcast to 160 countries and territories. The Awards continue to support Laureus Sport for Good by showcasing the incredible work it does with athletes and partners to transform the lives of individuals and promoting to a global audience the power of sport as a development tool to combat challenging social issues. Laureus was founded by its Patrons Richemont and Daimler and is supported by its Global Partners Mercedes-Benz and IWC Schaffhausen. Mercedes-BenzMercedes-Benz is the inventor of the automobile – and has been passionately shaping its future since 1886. As pioneers in automotive engineering, it is both our inspiration and responsibility to continue the tradition of the brand with trailblazing technologies and high-quality products. Like no other trademark in the automotive world, Mercedes-Benz appeals to both the hearts and minds of its customers. We give our very best for customers who expect the very best. Since the founding fathers Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz, our corporate history has been one of innovation and pioneering achievements. Many technical innovations that are nowadays standard in automobiles first entered the market in a Mercedes-Benz. This is the basis for our claim to leadership in automotive engineering. The brand stands for Modern Luxury, and enjoys an outstanding reputation for quality, safety, comfort, design and comprehensive, sustainable mobility. IWC SchaffhausenWith a clear focus on technology and development, the Swiss watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen has been producing timepieces of lasting value since 1868. The company has gained an international reputation based on a passion for innovative solutions and technical ingenuity. One of the world’s leading brands in the luxury watch segment, IWC crafts masterpieces of haute horlogerie at their finest, combining supreme precision with exclusive design. As an ecologically and socially responsible company, IWC is committed to sustainable production, supports institutions around the globe in their work with children and young people and maintains partnerships with organisations dedicated to climate and environmental protection.