Richardson & Eliet speak ahead of Samurai Bulldogs debuts after successful school seasons

The Samurai Bulldogs will play their first tournament of the year on Sunday when they enter the East Grinstead Sunshine Sevens.

The Samurai Bulldogs are an invitational seven-a-side team made up for school and university players between the ages of 17 and 23. In their own words, their objective is:

“The objective of the Samurai British Bulldogs team is to give prospective future British players between the age of 17-23 most of whom are currently or recently finished students valuable 7 a side experience in a competitive environment.”

“The aim is to provide a number of younger players, who it is felt could have potential in the game of 7’s and who possibly could represent their respective Home Nations Sevens in future seasons, with additional 7s specific coaching, training intensity, experience and game time.”

Sam Howard, who is the current Dulwich College Head Coach and back-to-back Daily Mail Cup winning coach, set the team up and will be coaching them throughout the summer.

He has selected a twelve man squad for the Sunshine Sevens but will have to chop and change his squad from tournament to tournament as exam commitments come into play for several of the players.

Alongside the Sunshine Sevens, the Bulldogs will also be taking part in the Rosslyn Park Floodlit Sevens and Bury St Edmunds Sevens next week before heading to the Rugby Rocks Sevens on the first of June and then onto the Keynsham West Country 7’s on the 15th.

Five current schoolboy sevens players are in Howard’s squad for the sunshine sevens, while his star of Dulwich College’s 2012 Daily Mail Cup win (and his current Blackheath protégé) Tom O’Flaherty is also included.

We caught up with two of those schoolboy players, Buchan Richardson and Matt Eliet of Wellington College and Tonbridge respectively, ahead of this weekend’s opening tournament and following their superb school sevens seasons:

Fifteen Rugby (XV): Being selected for the Bulldogs side is an impressive achievement, what are you looking forward to the most and are there any teammates that you are particularly looking forward to playing with?

Matt Eliet (M.E): I’m looking forward to facing the challenge of playing a bit outside my comfort zone with new players and against more experienced opposition. The Bulldogs is littered with talent, so it’s very exciting to be surrounded by such quality players and I’m looking forward to playing with Tom O’Flaherty, who I used to play a bit of club cricket and tennis with back at prep school.

Buchan Richardson (B.R): Yeah thank you, I’m very pleased and pleasantly surprised to be selected for this side which has so much talent in across the entire squad! 

Looking forward to a couple of things; firstly always enjoy playing with new players from all across the country, learning a few things off them as well as having a good laugh whilst competing. Secondly excited to take my first step up from the schoolboy circuit, playing with adults is something that is obviously new to me and am looking forward to a big physical challenge.

Player wise I’ve heard good things about a lot of the guys in the squad but in particular looking forward to playing with some of the more experienced older boys who are currently playing at top Uni’s.

XV: How many tournaments are you hoping to be able to play in given the other demands on your time at the moment?

M.E: Well it’s an honour to be selected for the first tournament, but with such a large wider squad there are going to be rotations. June will be the hardest time to play as the bulk of the A2 exams are then, but I’m hoping to be available for as many as possible, if selected!

B.R: Not sure exactly at the moment but have so far firmed up two of them at East Grinstead and Rosslyn Park; obviously a busy time with both exams and training for the Wellington vs Sedbergh fixture at the London 7s.

XV: Wellington obviously had a superb Sevens season, particularly winning at Rosslyn Park, what are the abiding memories for you?

B.R: I’ve loved every minute of playing for Wellington this year and in particular 7s. As well as RPN7s obviously, one top memory has to be the final of Surrey where we lost to Oaklands in extra time- with a lot of AASE colleges playing and several England players in the their line up it was nice to show that schools rugby can still compete and perform against these guys.

Other memories have all been centred around playing with my best mates for the last time; it was nice to have Simon Sexton back in action for the sevens season and all the results took care of themselves after very hard fitness sessions both in the gym and on the pitch throughout the winter.

XV: Tonbridge had a pretty impressive Sevens season too, particularly reaching the final at Rosslyn Park, what sticks out for you?

M.E: Reaching the final was a definite highlight, obviously it was a disappointing end for us but our aim in the 7s season was to right the wrongs of our 15s campaign and prove to people that we were a top side and I think we managed to achieve that by winning the Worth 7s and our run at Rosslyn Park.

My favourite game was the Rosslyn semi-final against Bedford, it was such a tight affair that really could have gone either way and I just remember the overriding feeling of relief when that final whistle went.

XV: East Grinstead is the first tournament, what are the Bulldogs aims, are you going all out for the tournament win or looking to enjoy the social side of sevens a bit too?

B.R: Haven’t actually met with the rest of the guys but am sure I can speak for the whole side when I say that the aim is to win the tournament and with the amount of talent in the squad for the 28th this seems like a very real prospect to me; of course though looking to enjoy the experience and know it will be a good laugh too.

M.E We’re going into the tournament with high aspirations and the win is our main goal, but we also out there just for the enjoyment playing 7s in a more competitive environment in the sun, and hopefully get a tan too!

It certainly bodes to be an exciting Bulldogs side, both Richardson and Eliet were outstanding for their school sides this season, while in St Joseph’s College’s George Wacokecoke they have one of the most exciting seven a side backs in the country, despite being just 17 years of age.

Joe Battle of Hampton School also links up with the squad, while Coleg Sir Gar’s Dai Treherne is joined by his brother Luke of Exeter University in the Bulldogs squad.

Despite being such a young side, the Bulldogs are expected to fare well this season, with the Rosslyn Park Floodlit Sevens of the 2nd May likely to be the sternest test they face as it includes the likes of Leicester, Saracens, Harlequins and Wasps.

Regardless of results though it will be a fine experience for each of these players and a fantastic opportunity for them to showcase their talents to the wider rugby world.

Confirmed Tournaments:

Sunday 28th April – East Grinstead Sunshine 7’s

Thursday 2nd May – Rosslyn Park Floodlit 7’s

Sunday 5th May – Bury St Edmunds 7’s

Saturday 1st June – Rugby Rocks 7’s

Saturday 15th June – Keynsham West Country 7’s

Samurai Bulldogs Squad for the Sunshine 7’s

Name

Team

Age

Position

Joe Battle

Hampton School

18

Wheels

Tom Bellak

Leicester Tigers

19

Centre/Wing

Tom Brown

Bath University

22

Back/Forward

Matt Eliet

Tonbridge

18

Forward

Hugo Kelly

Cambridge University

21

Forward

Shaq Meyers

Bedford Blues

19

Forward

Tom O’Flaherty

Blackheath

18

Half Back

Buchan Richardson

Wellington College

18

Forward

Will Smith

Cambridge University

20

Centre

Dai Treherne

Coleg Sir Gar

18

Half Back

Luke Treherne

Exeter University

20

Half Back

George Wacokecoke

St Joseph’s College

17

Wheels

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