TOP BAR - Fixtures

Scarlets perfecting their skills ahead of Cardiff Singha 7s

Scarlets skills coach Dai Flanagan says the Wales 7s contingent among his camp have been giving his youngsters a crash course in the format ahead of the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Series.

The Singha 7s returns to BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park for the third consecutive year as Scarlets, Newport Gwent Dragons, Ospreys and Cardiff Blues get set to do battle again on 22 July.

Though the Dragons hold the bragging rights – they won the competition outright in 2015 – Scarlets have not trailed too far behind.

They made it all the way to the semi-finals at the Stoop before falling to a Wasps side packed with stars such as Christian Wade and Elliot Daly.

And with Wales 7s players Iolo Evans and Lee Rees available to Scarlets, Flanagan has urged his squad to make the most of the opportunity to pick their brains.

“Selfishly we try and do a bit of everything with the Singha 7s, we try and get the senior guys a chance to play as well as the youngsters, but we also want to try and win it,” he said.

“We were close last year, finishing second in Cardiff to qualify and then getting in the top four overall, but the challenge is to try and repeat that and finish as high as possible.

“We have got core [Wales] 7s players in our region that we have had access to for the last two years, Iolo Evans who captained the side and Lee Rees, and they have been excellent. They help the youngsters and bring them through.

“7s is a very different game, so you need as much education as you can get and as much coaching as possible.

“I find 7s a breath of fresh air to coach because it is really homing in on your core skills – your contact area, your defence, your catch-pass – and one mistake in any of them leads to a turnover, which in 7s more often than not leads to a try.”

The Singha 7s has proved a breeding ground for the next generation – no fewer than 25 players have earned international berths following appearances in the competition including Red Rose regulars Owen Farrell, Jonathan Joseph and Anthony Watson.

And Flanagan believes the Singha 7s will soon start bearing fruit for 15-a-side rugby in Wales as his youngsters adapt to a bigger stage.

“By the time the season comes, these players will be more prepared than anyone else,” added Flanagan.

“The hardest thing is replicating that pressure environment, you always struggle to replicate it in training. There is always an extra chance in training whereas in a game there isn’t.

“The more chance a youngster gets to play in games like this, the more their skills will be highlighted and improve.

“It is a chance to establish bragging rights over the Welsh regions, but our priority is to get through because then you get a shot at English opposition.

“Welsh kids don’t get that often anymore and to play against an English team is what all Welsh kids strive to do – so we have to do well here to give ourselves a chance to do that.”

The Singha Premiership Rugby 7s kicks off on 22 July at Cardiff Arms Park with the Finals at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday 7 August. For tickets and details visit 

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