The French rising star that left the Olympic champions scrambling to lay a hand on him
Nelson Epee may not be a household name in world or even French rugby yet, but his exploits at the Dubai 7s show why he is expected to have a very bright future.
The 20-year-old Toulouse winger was not daunted by the prospect of facing 2016 and 2021 Olympic gold medal winners Fiji in Dubai on Friday, and having already grabbed one try, he capped his performance off with a sensational finish that left the Fijian defenders tripping over one another. This was a combination of pace and spellbinding footwork, weaving in and out to leave the on coming tackler helpless.
Fiji had already won the match at this point, but that takes nothing away from how good this try was. Take a look:
— Gauthier Baudin (@GauthierBaudin) November 26, 2021
Epee caught the eye of viewers during the under-2o Six Nations this year, where he bagged four tries in four games for Les Bleus. Some have even posited that Epee was the reason why Toulouse were willing to let Cheslin Kolbe leave in the summer, as they knew they had an emerging talent on their hands that could fill the South African’s shoes. Kolbe himself spent a long time on the sevens circuit with South Africa and is famed for producing runs like Epee’s, so it could be a like for like replacement on the wing for the reigning Heineken Champions Cup winners.
Toulouse’s rising star was also on the score sheet in France’s second match against Australia, although it was in vain again as his side fell 17-10. They take on Canada later today in their final match of Pool A.
Ahead of the tournament, World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin said: “Following the highly impactful Olympic competition in Tokyo which caught the imagination of new fans around the globe, we are delighted that the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series is back and are looking forward to what promises to be a superb showcase of this dynamic, skillful and highly entertaining format of the game, kicking off in Dubai where sevens has a great tradition.”