The Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Series kicks off again this weekend, and once again the big theme of the competition looks likely to be youth.
It all begins at the BT Cardiff Arms Park on Friday night, where the reigning Champions, Newport Gwent Dragons, will begin their title defence. Youth features highly in the Dragons, Blues, Ospreys, and Scarlets squads, with some familiar names to followers of recent schools and U20 rugby involved. Sedbergh leaver James Botham is in the Cardiff Blues squad, with Wales U20 star Harrison Keddie with the Dragons, meanwhile one of the stars of Dulwich College’s 2012 Schools Cup victory, Tom O’Flaherty, is involved for the Ospreys.
The first English group takes place on Saturday at Sandy Park, with Bath, Bristol, and Wasps all travelling to join Exeter Chiefs.
Bath are captained by former Bryanston fly half Rory Jennings, he is joined by a number of other Academy stars. Zach Mercer and Darren Atkins both starred for England U20 in their brilliant World Rugby U20 Championship win and are involved on Saturday, as is Atkins’ old Millfield teammate Adam Hastings, who starred for Scotland in the U20 Championships. A further Millfield old boy joins team, in the shape of Josh Bayliss, who joined the Academy this summer after captaining the Millfield 1st XV last year.
Bayliss also played for England U18 this year, as did Denstone College’s Levi Davies, who is also included in the squad. Alex Humfrey is another new recruit to the Bath academy and also lines up on Saturday, alongside Harry Davies.
Jacob Unwin, Craig Duncan, Chay Smith, and Henry Martin complete the Bath squad.
Bristol, back in the Premiership 7s after promotion from the Championship, are skippered by former SGS Filton College star, Auguy Slowick, who is joined by a number of other former Filton stars, including two sets of brothers, Andy and Mike Uren and Ezra and Elias Caven.
Recent Academy arrivals Sam Jeffries and Jack Capon are both named in the squad, alongside the Hartpury College pair of Joe Dancer and Robbie Forbes. Ryan Edwards, Billy Searle, and Henry Bird complete the squad.
The hosts, Exeter Chiefs, had a successful 7s season last year, claiming the Plate with an exciting young squad. They are going for the same formula this year, with a young squad aided by a sprinkling of experience.
Former England U20 back row Sam Simmonds is the skipper, with another England U20 back row, Sam Skinner, joining him.
Exeter University’s former Prior Park College skipper Pete Laverick is in the squad as are youngsters such as Joe Simmonds, Max Bodily, Ted Landry, and Tom Hendrickson, all of whom have played in the Singha Premierships Rugby 7s Series before.
Senior winger Matt Jess is the most experienced man in the squad, and he will likely be an important figure for the likes of young academy members such as Nick Mason, Jamie George, Dan Frost and Harrison Cully.
Wasps reached the final last time and are hoping to go one better this year, as such they have gone for a slightly more experienced side, with eight members of the senior squad and four Academy players included.
New signing Nick De Luca will make his debut, while the experienced 7s man Frank Halai is also included. Josh Bassett captains the side, with Brendan Macken, Tom Cruse, Rob Miller, and Craig Hampson joining him from the senior side.
From the Academy former Harrow flyer Owain James is included, as is Tom Howe, formerly of Shiplake College, who has represented England at 7s. Henley College leaver Connor Eastgate is included, as is the England U18 star Jacob Umaga, whom Wasps snapped up from Leicester Tigers this summer after Umaga finished is time at Wyggeston & Queen Elizabeth I College.
With so many young stars in action this weekend it is certainly set to be an exciting chance to glimpse some of tomorrow’s big stars. The action then resumes next weekend with Groups C and D, with the top two teams from each group heading to the Ricoh Arena on Sunday 7th August for the series finals.
Signha 7s Group B Squads:
Rory Jennings (c)
Auguy Slowik (c)
Sam Simmonds (c)
Josh Bassett (c)
Nick De Luca
Singha 7s Group A – BT Cardiff Arms Park – Friday 22nd July
Singha 7s Group B – Sandy Park – Saturday 23rd July
Singha 7s Group C – Friday 29th July – Franklin’s Gardens
Singha 7s Group D – Saturday 30th July – Kingston Park
Singha 7s Finals – Sunday 7th August – Ricoh Arena