After an slight hiccough to the start of the schools 7s last weekend, as the Colston’s 7s had to be cancelled due to the weather, we are due a spectacular second weekend with two extremely high quality and competitive tournaments, the South Coast 7s and the Shiplake 7s.
There was some 7s last weekend, it should be noted, the Brentwood 7s, won by Felsted, and the Millfield 7s, which was treated as a warm up event for the season ahead.
It was a shame though that the Colston’s 7s could not go ahead, but it is an inevitability of the schools 7s season, tournaments get cancelled. Why? Because of the time of year, this period from late January to late March starts off with cold and frozen pitches, and then moves on to wet and waterlogged ones. Occasionally we will get lucky when March comes and we will have a warm and dry spring, conducive to the sort of 7s that we all want to see, but it is far from a guarantee.
Even the superb HSBC Rosslyn Park National School 7s is often weather affected, last year saw plenty of rain, the 2013 final was played in hail, while in 2014 the Colts had to be cancelled.
So I have a proposal, it’s not one I expect to be taken up, nor is it one made with a huge amount of seriousness, but it is an interesting thought nonetheless. At least to me it is.
Why not have the school 7s season in the summer term? Yes, it would clash with cricket, athletics, and tennis, but it already clashes with football and hockey. 7s tournaments are played on Sundays generally, so they avoid such clashes and would do in the summer too.
It would fix the weather issue (yes, it still rains in the summer term but pitches are rarely waterlogged), and it would also help with player availability. The 7s season currently sees a lot of players end up absent either due to U18 Academy commitments, or U18 and U17 internationals, even the NatWest Cup proves a compromise for the 7s for many schools.
So why not consider the summer?
Exams are the only proper reason I can think of, but then again, we come back to the fact that 7s tournaments take place on Sundays. No lessons are missed, no revision sessions. Yes there is the odd day like the Surrey 7s or a couple of days at Rosslyn Park, but pupils would get those days back because of having them free this term, the same number of days of school would be missed.
There is a wider thought to this too, sevens is becoming a bigger global sport, it is on the Olympic roster now. It is a summer sport. Do we want our young 7s players to be learning the fast paced hard ground game that is played at the top level, or do we want them playing on frozen and boggy pitches on a misty and cold February Sunday?
We love our 7s here at Fifteen Rugby, and the school 7s season always produces some of the most memorable and specular rugby moments of the year, it is a truly outstanding couple of months. But why not give it the chance to be even more outstanding, why not do everything in our power to have it so that 7s tournaments have a far greater chance of being guaranteed to go ahead. Why not make it conducive to playing great 7s rather than trying to play great 7s in the face of conditions that say otherwise?
It is just a thought, but a thought that it would be interesting to hear some debate on. Feel free to contact me on @AngusSavageXV – I would love to hear your thoughts.