Singha Premiership Rugby 7s: Youth the order of the day again at the Singha 7s

After a thrilling couple of days at the BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park and Exeter Chiefs’ Sandy Park at the weekend, the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s returns again this weekend for the final two groups.


Northampton Saints host Group C at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday, with Harlequins, Gloucester, and Saracens making the trip. On Saturday Newcastle Falcons’ Kingston Park is the host venue, with Leicester Tigers, Sale Sharks, and Worcester Warriors the travelling teams.


The top two teams from each group on the night will qualify for the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Finals Day on Sunday 7th August at the Ricoh Arena.


Cardiff Blues and the Ospreys were the first two sides to secure their places at the Ricoh, as the finished first and second in Group A last Friday, with Cardiff going unbeaten, and the Ospreys only losing to the hosts. The reigning champions, Newport Gwent Dragons, missed out after losing by just two points to both the Blues and the Ospreys, Scarlets meanwhile finished without a win.


Over at Sandy Park on Saturday it was another host team who finished top of the pile, with Exeter Chiefs winning all of their games to head through to the Ricoh as top seeds. Wasps will be the other side from Group B joining them, they beat Bristol and Bath to secure their Finals Day place. Meanwhile Bristol won their derby against Bath to secure third spot, it will not take them to the Ricoh, but it was a decent return for their first taste of Premiership action in years.


What was striking across all both groups and through all eight teams was the focus in each squad on youth. If anything, it looks like Groups C and D have an even greater focus on youth, having seen their squad announcements over the last 24 hours.


Group C


Group C hosts, Northampton Saints, include James Grayson and Alex Rayment, who both played for England U18 this year, as well as Bedford School’s Fraser Strachan, who represented Scotland U18. Strachan’s former Bedford schoolmate George Furbank is also involved. St Joseph’s College leaver Tom Emery is involved, as is his former captain at St Joseph’s, the former England U20 flanker Lewis Ludlam.


Sam Olver and Howard Packman were also part of Ludlam’s U20 group, with James Fish an U18 international a couple of years ago. Sion Bennett captains the side, Bennett has made plenty of appearances for the 1st XV, as has Tom Collins, who will be one of the real gas men in the squad. Jasper Dix completes the squad.


Gloucester are likely to be a strong side in Group C, they have real pedigree on the 7s scene. Like Saints, they have plenty of youth, with England U18 scrum half Harry Randall one of the most exciting. Randall actually played both U18 and U20 international rugby last season. Also included is one of the brightest young talents around in England U20 fly half Mat Protheroe, as well as ex Dean Close fly half Lloyd Evans, and the exciting young talent, Elliott Creed.


19 year old back row Joe Mullis has a place in the squad alongside Will Safe, a year his senior. Mason Tonks, like Randall, is straight out of school, as is Harry Wilson, who will link up as a travelling reserve.


Former England U20 skipper Callum Braley will captain the side, with his ex England U20 teammate Lewis Ludlow also joining. David Halaifonua and Dan Thomas also join from the senior squad, with Tom Hudson also appearing.


Harlequins, as ever, have one of the youngest squads of all. Dino Lamb-Cona (Cranleigh), Niall Saunders (Epsom College), James Lang (Rugby Gogledd Cymru), and Gabriel Ibitoye (Trinity) all finished school this summer, as did Lithuanian born Jonas Mikalcius.


Lamb-Cona and Ibityoe were both key for England U18, while Lamb-Cona helped Cranleigh to the HSBC Rosslyn Park National School 7s title, while Saunders actually ended up represented Ireland U20 at the World Rugby U20 Championships, where the reached the final.


England eventually won those championships, with former Wellington College man Sam Aspland-Robinson on the wing, he is selected here for Harlequins, as is Scotland U20 wing, Robbie Nairn.


Joining those seven Academy players are two more, in former Whitgift star Henry Cheeseman, and Callum Waters, formerly of Brighton College, who will skipper the squad.


Cameron Cowell and Oscar Hirskyj-Douglas are drafted in from the England 7s squad, with James Gulliver completing the lineup.


Saracens also turn out an incredibly young squad for the Group stages of the Singha 7s. Four of their twelve are new to the Academy this year, Ben Earl, Jack Nay, Ali Crossdale, and Alex Gliksten. Earl (Tonbridge School), Nay (Berkhamsted), and Crossdale (Sedbergh) all represented England U18 while part of the Saracens junior Academy last year, while Gliksten (Harrow) was snapped up from Wasps ahead of the new season.


Former Millfield star Tom Whiteley will captain Saracens for the second year running. The 20 year old is something of a wizard on the 7s field, and was the player of the tournament at the HSBC Rosslyn Park National School 7s in his final year at school.


Drafted back into the Saracens fold is former St Joseph’s College skipper Ethan Waddleton, who has represented England 7s this year, his first year out of school. Former New Hall player Dom Morris, who has played for England U18 and U20, is included, as is Rotimi Segun, whom Saracens have picked up fro Loughborough Students, and who was a non-playing member of England’s victorious U20 squad this season.


The squad is completed by four players drafted in from elsewhere. Jason Hill, of Samurai 7s, plays with many of the Saracens Academy players at Bedford and joins the squad, as does the Navy’s Jarrad Haylor. Nck Forster is drafted from Old Albanians, while Kevin Barrett is drafted into playing duties from the Saracens strength and conditioning department.


Group D


Over in Group D the youth just keeps on coming. Leicester Tigers pick England U18 wingers Sam Yawayawa and Jordan Olowofela, as well as Freddie Tuilagi, who is the son of Tigers legend Henry Tuilagi, and the 7th Tuilagi family member to represent the club.


The scarily young Ben White skippers the side, the young scrum half made his Tigers debut as a 17 year old last year, and only finished school last month.


Sam Lewis, Tom Hardwick, Harry Simmons, Harry Mahoney, Ollie Russell, Tommy Reffell, and Andy Brown, all join up with the squad from the Academy, with Stowe leaver Charlton Kerr also linking up, making the Leicester Tigers squad perhaps the youngest of all.


Newcastle Falcons also keep things young. Dan Temm skippers the side, he Tom Catterick, Joel Hogdson, and new signing Harrison Orr are the only 1st XV players in the squad.


Secodn year senior Academy prospects Ruaridh Dawson, Dan Marshall, Geln Young, and Santiago Socino are all included, as is Sedbergh leaver Max Davies, Yarm leaver Ben Stevenson, and new local signing Adam Radwan.


Berkhamsted leaver Tom Ffitch, now training with the England 7s Academy, is the only ‘guest’.


Sale Sharks go for youth too, they are captained by the former Lymm High School scrum half James Mitchell, who has represented England U20 and skippered Sale in the competition last year. Joining him are England U18’s back row twins, Tom and Ben Curry, who both finished their time at Oundle School last month after another excellent season.


George Nott, who starred for England U20 on home turf in the recent World Rugby U20 Championships, is included, as is former England U20 wing Paulo Odogwu and Academy man Sam Bedlow.


Matt Rogerson, Andy Hughes Curtis Langdon, Nick Scott, Tom Morton and Charlie Venables complete a young squad.


Worcester Warriors have a very exciting squad by the looks of things. England U20 star Huw Taylor will captain the side, with his former England U20 and Old Swinford Hospital back row partner Sam Ripper-Smith also included.


Tiff Eden, Josh Adams, Ben Fowles, and Tom Dodd also join from the Warriors Academy. Dodd’s former Warwick School mate Jordan Ainslie is also included; Ainslie is now part of the England 7s Academy.


Dion King and Ted Hill are promoted up from the Warriors U18 side, with Hartpury College’s Harry Cochrane also drafted in. From outside of the Worcester family come Jaike Carter of Spain 7s and Craig Jackson from Melrose RFC.


Overall we should be set for a brilliant couple of days of rugby, starting at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday evening!


Singha Premiership Rugby 7s – Group C & D Draws:


Group C (Franklin’s Gardens – Friday 29th July)Group D (Kingston Park – Saturday 30th July)
GloucesterLeicester Tigers
HarlequinsNewcastle Falcons
Northampton SaintsSale Sharks
SaracensWorcester Warriors


Singha Premiership Rugby 7s – Group A & B Final Standings:


 Group A (BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park)Group B (Sandy Park)
1Cardiff Blues (Q)Exeter Chiefs (Q)
2Ospreys (Q)Wasps (Q)
3Newport Gwent DragonsBristol


Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Finals – Ricoh Arena – Sunday 7th August


Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Squads – Group C:


GloucesterHarlequinsNorthampton SaintsSaracens
David HalaifonuaCam CowellTom CollinsBen Earl
Joe MullisGabriel IbitoyeGeorge FurbankJack Nay
Will SafeNiall SaundersHoward PackmanEthan Waddleton
Tom HudsonDino Lamb-ConaJames GraysonJason Hill
Harry RandallRobbie NairnSam OlverJarrad Haylor
Mason TonksOscar Hirskyj-DouglasTom EmeryTom Whiteley (c)
Dan ThomasJames GulliverFraser StrachanKevin Barrett
Lewis LudlowJonas MikalciusLewis LudlamAlex Gliksten
Callum Braley (c)Calum Waters (c)Sion Bennett (c)Alistair Crossdale
Lloyd EvansJames LangAlex RaymentDom Morris
Mat ProtheroeSam Aspland-RobinsonJames FishRotimi Segun
Elliott CreedHenry CheesemanJasper DixNick Forster

 *UPDATES – Harlequins’ Niall Saunders is replaced by Max Coyle (Reigate Grammar School) due to injury Callum Sirker (England 7s Academy) replaces Ethan Waddleton for Saracens due to injury, and Fraser Dingwall (Bedford) replaces schoolmate Fraser Strachan for Northampton Saints, again due to injury.


Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Squads – Group D:


Leicester TigersNewcastle FalconsSale SharksWorcester Warriors
Sam LewisDan Temm (c)Tom CurryTom Dodd
Harry MahoneySantiago SocinoBen CurryJaike Carter
Charlton KerrGlen YoungMatt RogersonSam Ripper-Smith
Harry SimmonsMax DaviesAndy HughesHuw Taylor (c)
Ben White (c)Harrison OrrGeorge NottTed Hill
Sam YawayawaAdam RadwanJames Mitchell (c)Ben Fowles
Jordan OlowofelaDan MarshallCurtis LangdonJosh Adams
Freddie TuilagiTom CatterickSam BedlowTiff Eden
Tommy ReffellRuaridh DawsonPaolo OdogwuHarry Cochrane
Tom HardwickJoel HodgsonNick ScottDion King
Ollie RussellBen StevensonTom MortonJordan Ainslie
Andy BrownTom FfitchCharlie VenablesCraig Jackson
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