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Take a chance on schoolboy rugby this Saturday, it might just be worth it

If you are at Twickenham this weekend for the Marriott London Sevens, make sure that you are in your seat and ready to watch at 11.45am on Saturday.

In modern sevens the trend among many sides has begun to slide towards a kind of ‘mini fifteen-a-side’ game, rather than a unique game in itself. The old convention of sevens was that contact was to be avoided at all costs, that going twenty, thirty, forty yards backwards was perfectly acceptable so long as you had the ball.

Nowadays contact is taken far more often and with a proper competition for the ball on the floor, in many ways it is a more all round skillset that is used but some of the old romantic ways are dying out – you very rarely see a side walking around with the ball these days.

Even Fiji succumbed for a while, though under Alifereti Dere they are trying to bring back some of the old ways. Sevens has become a breeding ground for fifteen a side players, with many using it as a way to develop players handling and foot skills before bringing them back from the circuit.

The introduction of sevens at the Olympics has made a bit of a difference though and now some players and teams are no longer seeing the sevens circuit as a means to an end but as a means in itself, perhaps a return to the old ways could be coming.

At 11.45am on Saturday though a chance will come along for all of you sevens romantics out there to enjoy a piece of what makes rugby so great.

Wellington College will play Sedbergh School on the hallowed Twickenham turf in a seven a side battle for schoolboy bragging rights. At the prestigious HSBC Rosslyn Park National School Sevens competition in March Wellington won the Festival tournament while Sedbergh won the Open tournament, the two will play on Saturday in an ultimate decider as to which is the best sevens side on the school circuit.

HSBC, the RFU, the IRB, Rosslyn Park, and the schools themselves, indeed anyone involved in the process at all, must be thanked for allowing this exciting game to happen.

Many of you either are playing, or have played or been involved in some way with schoolboy rugby and will know just how special it is.

Just put yourself in those boys shoes for a moment, they will be running out at Twickenham to play in front of 50,000 rugby fans, sharing the same turf as the cream of international sevens players, it is an experience that they will never forget, an experience that many will possible never top.

As a spectator it will be a magnificent spectacle, two sides playing simply for glory. For them there is no need to win, no livelihood to think about, no accumulation of points not thoughts of maintaining status for next year, no, for them there is just a desire to win. A strong, fierce desire to win of course, but their game is all the better for it.

Some of the players on show could well be gracing us with their presence on a much wider scale in the years to come but on Saturday just watch them as they are, two sets of fantastic players, playing because of a love of the game, playing for schoolboy glory.

Expect to see the ball flung around, watch Wellington’s Charlie Wicks as he shows his full range of skills in creating space for others, revel in the excitement of Sedbergh’s Robert Stevenson’s sniping breaks. This is pure rugby; this is where it began for everyone.

I’ve never had the privilege of walking out on the Twickenham turf with a group of my mates with a chance of proving in front of 50,000 people that we are the best school sevens team in the country. These two teams do, and I’m willing to bet that there is no greater feeling than that when you’re a rugby mad 18 year old.

So when there is a pause in the international stuff on Saturday morning, don’t see it as a good chance to get to the bar (far to early for that anyway!) sit back and enjoy rugby at its purest, the bar will still be open 14 minutes later.

By Angus Savage

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