Baker & Isles setting a scorching pace for U.S. rugby

Fri Mar 4, 2016 3:24am EST
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By Nick Mulvenney

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Carlin Isles and Perry Baker both had dreams of success in other sports but in August their scorching pace will be vital to U.S. hopes of a medal when rugby sevens makes its Olympic bow in Rio de Janeiro.

Sevens, a shorter version of the 15-man game, may not be just about speed but it certainly helps and in Isles, a former sprinter with a 100 meters personal best of 10.24 seconds, the Eagles boast the "fastest man in rugby".

Baker, a former wide receiver in college football and the Arena League, is a more recent convert but his pace is no less impressive, as any number of opponents on the World Sevens Series would no doubt attest.

Played into space, the duo are all-but impossible to catch and have already racked up 30 tries between them in four rounds of the series heading into their home leg in Las Vegas this weekend.

"To have another fast guy helps me a lot, I don't have to take all the load," Isles, whose pace has made him one of the biggest names in sevens, told Reuters at the Sydney round.

"We alternate, I may start, he may start, it depends. We play a bit differently, which is good, so the coach can use us according to who we're playing."

Baker, a nephew of San Diego Chargers Hall of Famer Wes Chandler, said he was "loving" rugby even if it had taken him a while to get used to the less structured nature of the game.

"It's a little tougher, it forces you to think a bit more. In football you don't have to do much thinking because you're stuck in that one position," he told Reuters.   Continued...

Carlin Isles of the U.S. (C) is tackled by France's Vincent Inigo (R) and Paul Albaladejo during their preliminary match at the Hong Kong Sevens rugby tournament in Hong Kong in this March 23, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Bobby Yip