GB Sevens’ preparations continue this weekend at Sevens and the City when two teams named GB Lions and GB Royals compete in the event at Allianz Park (July 2).
The Lions will play Samurai, Barbados and Wales while the Royals face Italy, France and this season’s England academy side.
The wider training squad gathered for the first time at the end of May and featured in Rugby Europe’s Moscow event several days later. Following a three week intensive training block, GB Sevens will now compete in Sevens and the City and two further Rugby Europe Grand Prix Sevens Series tournaments in Exeter (9-10 July) and Gdynia (16-17 July).
Team GB Sevens Head Coach Simon Amor said: “Training has been at an incredibly high standard. We always said it is where the players would face their toughest opposition and I couldn’t have asked for more. The attitude of the guys, and how they have challenged each other, has been excellent.
“Lots of learning has taken place, and with such strong competition, the guys are fighting for places daily. The main objective of the past three weeks was to put into place how we want to play the game in terms of attack and defence and there is a really good understanding of that now. ” Amor added.
“The boys have done well in training but the test is how we put it into practice in tournaments. I think everyone is looking forward to getting into this competition phase and taking on other opposition as we continue to develop as a squad.”
Three players are unavailable for selection including Joe Simpson who is no longer in contention for the Olympics after dislocating his elbow in training. The scrum-half has returned to Wasps to continue his recovery and preparations for the upcoming season.
“It is really disappointing for Joe,” said Amor. “In the time he’s been with us, he has shown exciting potential and it is a shame he is unable to continue towards the Olympics because of this unfortunate injury. We all wish him well.”
Tom Bowen’s knee is under assessment, and it is hoped he will be involved next week in Exeter, while Scotland’s Jamie Farndale continues to make impressive progress following the hamstring strain he sustained in Moscow.
As the GB Lions and GB Royals have taken the places of Wales and England in this year’s Rugby Europe Grand Prix Sevens Series, organisers have stipulated that players cannot interchange between the two teams for the three competitions in Moscow, Exeter and Gdynia. This Saturday, at Sevens and the City, the coaches have a unique opportunity to make changes to the two sides.
“This is our chance to try different combinations as well as continue to develop the ones that worked well in Moscow,” said Amor. “Tomorrow is less about the result and more about the performance. We have a clear plan in terms how much game time we want to give players, which positions we want to test individuals in, and the various combinations we want to see.
“We also have players who are able to handle more minutes than they were in Moscow when they were returning from injury or transitioning back to the sevens game, Cory Allen being one example. James Rodwell and Charlie Hayter are now also back in the mix as well as Joseva Nayacavou so we have more options to consider.”
Earlier this week the pool draw for the Olympics took place with Team GB set to play New Zealand, Kenya and Japan in Rio.
“It is an incredibly exciting pool,” Amor added. “We all know New Zealand are an outstanding side, Kenya showed what they are capable of in winning the Singapore Sevens this season, and Japan have shown their potential on the series. It wouldn’t matter which pool you were drawn in at the Olympics, they will all be challenge. It is going to be an amazing experience.”
Richard de Carpentier
Luke Treharne ©
11.20am v Samurai
2pm v Barbados
5pm v Wales
Tom Mitchell ©
11am v Italy
1.40pm v France
4.20pm v England