Tokyo Olympics: Jasmine Joyce wants full-time sevens squad

Jasmine Joyce
Jasmine Joyce and Team GB missed out on a bronze medal at Rio 2016 after losing to Canada
Tokyo Olympic Games on the BBC
Dates: 23 July-8 August Time in Tokyo: BST +8
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button and online; Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live, Sports Extra and Sounds; live text and video clips on BBC Sport website and app.

Jasmine Joyce was left in tears once again after missing out on Olympic bronze for a second consecutive Games.

But the flying Welsh winger says she takes pride with Team GB putting the sevens programme "in a better place" and "inspiring the next generation".

She believes it is now "essential" that they become a full-time squad.

"It's really tough for us as three different nations coming together, we were literally together for five months," she said.

"These squads here are together for years, they compete on the world stage as their country.

"I'm telling you if we had an extra month, we would have won gold, I guarantee that, we just didn't have enough time. Full-time is absolutely massive."

Joyce, the smallest player from Britain's smallest city, St Davids, lit up the tournament with seven tries. Her electric speed even got a mention from New Zealand's gold medal winner Ruby Tui.

The home nation's sevens programmes were hit hard financially by Covid-19, with England, Scotland and Wales having to combine to compete in the world series in the build-up to Tokyo.

Joyce admits she and her team mates have come a long way since then.

"Six months ago all of us had nothing, we had no programme, we had no rugby," she said.

"For us to come out here, three nations joining together to perform as Team GB, I think it's phenomenal to come fourth.

"I can't be prouder of the girls and we definitely put our programme in a better place, we can call ourselves Olympians again.

"The support and love we've had from people back home is unbelievable and I can't thank you guys enough for that."

Jasmine Joyce
Jasmine Joyce wants to become a full-time professional rugby player

Outside of sevens, Joyce has won 19 caps for Wales in rugby union.

But the women's side, who endured another disappointing Six Nations in 2021, is once again coachless following the sudden departure of Warren Abrahams after just a few months in the job.

They are now looking for stability ahead of the 2022 World Cup, while it remains to be seen if leading players will be offered paid contracts as had been the intention of former WRU chief Martyn Phillips.

Former Wales wing and sevens specialist Philippa Tuttiett says the WRU must do more.

"We can produce incredible talent, so my question to the WRU is why is the right environment not being facilitated to really showcase these girls?" Tuttiett said.

"Sadly the only way we're going to see this talent is when they get to represent GB, that's when they are given the right environment, the professionalism.

"We're looking at the best players in the world at the Olympics and Jasmine Joyce is the standout player, and she is Welsh.

"How many more girls like that have we got here in Wales? We need the right environment so we can capture them, and we can have our own strong team."

Tuttiett added: "I really hope that when she (Joyce) comes back to Wales the WRU really use her as the fantastic role model that she is."

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