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Youngsters set to star in the Premiership 7s finals

The squads for the Premiership Rugby 7s finals at the Twickenham Stoop on Friday night have been revealed and once again the teams have all opted for a large dose of youth in their teams.

There are plenty of changes though, particularly since the England U18 squad departs for their tour of South Africa this weekend, making many of their players unavailable.

Northampton Saints have been hit particularly hard by this, having impressed so much with their youthful exuberance in the group stage they now lose three of their young stars in Harry Mallinder, Lewis Ludlam, and James Fish to the England tour.

There are still plenty of exciting youngsters in their squad though, England u20 stand off Sam Olver captains the side, he and his U20s colleague Howard Packman will add plenty of exciting spark, along with the 19 year old wing Josh Skelcey.

The hosts, Harlequins, make four changes to their squad as Sam Smith, Lewis Grimoldby, Charlie Walker, and Kieran Treadwell have all been called up to the 1st XV squad, a brilliant achievement for Treadwell in particular, he was lining up for his school team, John Fisher, just a few months ago.

Youth is still very much the go to word for the hosts and favourites though. They are led by Ollie Lindsay-Hague and include the likes of Henry Cheeseman and Jordan Burns, who have just finished their school careers, as well as James Chisholm a JWC winner with the U20s, and the player of the group stage, Joe Marchant.

Their youngest charge though is Sam Aspland-Robinson. He played at full-back for the excellent Wellington College 1st XV and still ahs another year of schoolboy rugby to come yet. We will be looking forward to capturing his progress this year.

If Harlequins are to progress on home soil though, they must first get past another London side packed full of young talent, London Irish.

In keeping with the theme of most squads, the Exiles also include plenty of young talent, including the England U18 internationals, 7s expert Cameron Cowell, and former Abingdon stand off, Theo Brophy-Clews.

They also include three former John Fisher pupils, Simon Hunt, Patrick O’Grady, and last year’s successful school 1st XV captain, Decland Williams. Youngest of all is U17 international Johnny Williams.

The winners will be looking to join last year’s champions, Gloucester, at the World Club 7s. However do not rule out Gloucester making it back to back titles. They have named an unchanged squad that includes England U18 captain Sam Underhill, England U20 captain Callum Braley, his JWC winning teammate Henry Purdy, former Dean Close fly half Lloyd Evans, and one of the most exciting young centres in the country, former Cheltenham College lynchpin, Ollie Thorley.

This year, for the first time, the Welsh regions have also been included in the Premiership 7s. Their group stage was held at the BT Cardiff Arms Park, with Cardiff Blues and Newport Gwent Dragons both progressing to the Stoop on Friday.

The Dragons will play Newcastle, while Cardiff Blues, who include former Millfield School number 8 Dafi Davies in their 12 man squad will play Leicester Tigers.

Leicester will be a tough opponent for the Blues. The Tigers came second to Gloucester last year and are determined to go one better this. They too have opted for a youthful approach though. They are led by George Tressider and include England age-grade star Will Owen among their number.

The Tigers prospects are being talked down now though after they were given a bit of a fright up in Darlington during the group stage as Newcastle Falcons topped the group.

They have had to make several changes to their squad after a number of 1st XV call ups, meaning there is a real shake up to that winning side, however it remains a strong and youthful team.

Perhaps the most surprising inclusion though is that of the experienced Scotland hooker, Scott Lawson, a man who would not be described as looking like a natural 7s player.

Elsewhere though things are very exciting, former Durham School star Craig Willis retains his place as does the youngest of the Tuilagi dynasty, Brian.

Among those coming into the squad is the superb former Sedbergh Schools captain and scrum half, James Christie. Christie was part of Sedbergh’s Rosslyn Park winning side in 2012 and captained them to the Plate final this year in impressive style, he will bring real excitement to the team.

Once again the Premiership 7s looks set to be an exciting evening and Fifteen Rugby will be reporting live from the Twickenham Stoop from 6pm onwards on Friday night. With so many school stars of the last few years in action, it is sure to be an inspiring evening of rugby for those who are just about to embark on their School 1st XV season. With a little luck, by this time next year some of them might be the stars we are reporting on.

Premiership Rugby 7s Finals Fixtures:

18.00 – 18.20 Quarter Final 1: Cardiff Blues v Leicester Tigers

18.25 – 18.45 Quarter Final 2: Gloucester v Northampton Saints

18.50 – 19.10 Quarter Final 3: Harlequins v London Irish

19.15 – 19.35 Quarter Final 4: Newcastle Falcons v Newport Gwent Dragons

19.40 – 20.00 Plate Semi Final 1: Loser QF 1 v Loser QF 2

20.05 – 20.25 Cup Semi Final 1: Winner QF 1 v Winner QF 2

20.30 – 20.50 Plate Semi Final 2: Loser QF 3 v Loser QF 4

20.55 – 21.15 Cup Semi Final 2: Winner QF 3 v Winner QF 4

21.20 – 21.40 Plate Final: Winner PSF 1 v Winner PSF 2

21.45 – 22.05 Cup Final: Winner SF1 v Winner SF 2

Squads:

Cardiff Blues:

1. Rhys Shellard,  2. Jevon Groves,  3. Richard Smith (c),  4. Dafi Davies,  5. Ben Roach,  6. Garyn Smith,  7. Thomas Williams,  8. Owen Jenkins,  9. Tomos Williams,  10. Geraint Walsh,  11. Dan Fish,  12 Harry Davies.

Leicester Tigers:

1 Will Owen,  2 Jake Farnworth,  3 Gary Dipple,  4 Ben Frankland,  5 Rhys Williams,  6 George Tresidder (c),  7 Josh Fowles,  8 Andy Bulumakau,  9 Phil Woodhead,  10 David Williams,  11 Oli Bryant,  12 Dan Rundle.

Gloucester:

1. Sam Showering,  2. Jacob Rowan,  3. Dan Thomas,  4. Bill Meakes,  5. Sam Underhill,  6. Rhodri McAtee,  7. Aled Thomas (c),  8. Lloyd Evans,  9. Henry Purdy,  10. Ollie Thorley,  11. Callum Braley,  12. Steph Reynolds.

Northampton Saints:

1. Josh Skelcey,  2. George Cox,  3. Glenn Dickson,  4. Tim Cardall,  5. Jacob Conner,  6. Rory Hutchinson,  7. Will Allman,  8. Teimana Harrison,  9. Phil Robinson,  10. Sam Olver (c),  11. Howard Packman,  12. Matt Goode.

Harlequins:

1. Izzy Fao’I,  2. Jack Maslen,  3. Ian Clark,  4. Sam Aspland Robinson

5. Simon Pitfield,  6. Henry Cheeseman,  7. Alosio Yamoyamo,  8. James Chisholm,  9. Jordan Burns,  10. Gavin Dampies,  11. Ollie Lindsay Hague (c),  12. Joe Marchant.

London Irish:

1.Simon Hunt,  2.Connor Murphy,  3.Ollie Curry (c),  4.Patrick O’Grady,  5.Will Harries,  6.Ollie Williams,  7.Cameron Cowell,  8.Johny Williams,  9.Jamie Hearn,  10.Theo Brophy Clewes,  11.Declan Williams,  12.Ollie Adams.

Newcastle Falcons:

1. Tom Catterick (c),  2. James Christie,  3. Andy Davies,  4. Chris Harris,  5. Scott Lawson,  6. Ben Morris,  7. Sean Robinson,  8. Dan Temm,  9. Brian Tuilagi,  10. Craig Willis, 11. Tom Wilson, 12. Glen Young.

Newport Gwent Dragons:

1 Angus O’Brien,  2 Dorian Jones,  3 Owen Davies,  4 Jonny Lewis,  5 Luke Morgan,  6 Matthew Pewtner,  7 Rhys Jones,  8 James Thomas,  9 James Cordey- Redden,  10 Lewis Hudd,  11 Oliver Griffiths,  12 Sam Cross (c).

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