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School leavers enjoying 7s life at the Commonwealth Youth Games

The 7s at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa beings on Wednesday, with England drawn in a Pool alongside South Africa, Namibia, and Singapore.

South Africa will be a particularly dangerous outfit, having brought many of the players who helped their U18 fifteen-a-side team beat England U18 last month.

The England team is equally strong though, and also features some players from that tour, including Harlequins’ Wellington College old boy Sam Aspland-Robinson and Newcastle Falcons’ Joe Craggs, who is joined by clubmate and fellow international, Dan Marsh. Stamford’s George Cox was also part of the wider England U18 squad.

With the team already on location in the sweltering conditions in host city Apia, training is well underway. However there has been time for some off field activity, with the England U18 7s outfit spending yesterday working with children who are taking part in what is known as the ‘Samoan Special Olympics’.

The team played a variety of sports, including rugby, with and against the disabled sides, an experience described as ‘inspirational and humbling’ by Will Wilson, who was captain of the all conquering Wellington College 1st XV/VII last year as well as playing under the colours of Wasps in the U18 and A League.

Unfortunately for the young England side, who trained with the senior side before heading out, they have already had to replace on star player due to injury. London Irish Academy player Callum Watson, younger brother of England’s World Cup squad winger Anthony, tore a hamstring last week. The youngest Watson is widely tipped as a star of the future, but his replacement, Exeter Chief Noah Sixton, is also a hot prospect for the future.

One name that rugby fans, both at schools level and above, will very likely recognise, is that of Warwick and Worcester Warriors scrum half/fly half, Jamie Shillcock.

Shillcock has on the bench for Worcester in both the semi final and final of the Championship play-offs last year, despite being just 17 years old and in the middle of his A levels, a quite remarkable achievement from a definite star of the future. He also competed for England U18 Counties, alongside 7s teammate Ruaridh Dawson.

As is well known, Fifteen Rugby are huge supports of the ISRFC Lambs, and the value of the Lambs is shown in this England 7s squad, with a third of its members having played for the Lambs as U14s on a tour to Biarritz, Wilson and Aspland-Robinson were joined by Sam Rees, and Prior Park leaver, Kieran Kelly.

England’s campaign begins on Wednesday against Nambia. The format of the competition will see the top two teams in each pool qualify, with each ranked 1-4. First will play fourth and second will play third in the semi finals, with the winners meeting in the final on Friday.

With 7s now on the Olympic calendar, this is a great opportunity for these plays to really show their quality, perhaps for 2016, but certainly for 2020. Though many will have their eyes on breaking through their Academies for some fifteen-a-side success first, Charlie Morris-Mean, for one, impressed as an U18 for Bath alongside another of the squad, Owen Waters, one of the stars of the brilliant Kingswood midfield of recent years.

England Squad for the Commonwealth Youth Games

Sam Aspland-Robinson

George Cox

Joe Craggs

Ruaridh Dawson

Kieran Kelly

Daniel Marsh

Charlie Morris-Mean

Sam Rees

Jamie Shillcock

Noah Sixton

Owen Waters

Will Wilson

By Tom Picton

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