Grand Slam winning centre Tom Shanklin says there is no experience like the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Series for Wales’ budding stars.
Former Cardiff Blues centre Shanklin will see the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Series return to his former stomping ground, BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park, when they host the first leg of this year’s competition on July 22.
Established first-teamers such as flyer Dan Fish have starred in the competition in the past, but Shanklin is most excited for the next batch of exhilarating youngsters to emerge from Danny Wilson’s stable.
And the 70-cap international thinks the pressure-cooker environment of top-level rugby 7s is the perfect means to ensure youngsters go on to succeed as professionals.
“It’s brilliant, there’s no other competition for the Welsh regions to play in sevens-wise, they have a sevens competition a tier below but it’s a good experience for youngsters because they get to play in front of a large crowd which they won’t be used to,” the 36-year-old said.
“Cory Allen and Alex Cuthbert both came through the Sevens circuit. I’d like to see a bit of a mix of youth and experience.
“It’s a good experience and a stepping stone for those guys to get excited about playing, against Premiership teams, which they don’t always get with their regions because they are young so it’s a good opportunity.”
With Rio 2016 just around the corner and rugby 7s appearing for the first time in Olympic history, Shanklin believes BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park could become a mini-Rio for the day come July 22.
With Newport Gwent Dragons upsetting the odds in last year’s Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Series to beat a high-class Wasps side in the final, Shanklin hopes Blues can replicate that success and secure a spot at the Ricoh Arena final on August 7.
He said: “It was great for the Dragons last year. They rightly won the Cardiff leg and to go and beat Wasps, who were a pretty full-strength Wasps team, it was great for their confidence.
“You want to see the youngsters coming through, getting that experience. If they progress further they will get the chance to play at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry which is an incredible venue.
“We’re just trying to create a big buzz around the sevens, and especially with Rio around the corner, people are starting to take a big interest in sevens.
“The Olympics is just around the corner so we’re trying to create a festival, a Rio festival at the Singha Premiership Rugby Sevens at the BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park and hopefully we’ll get quite a few people through the door.”
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 premiershiprugby.com/singha7stickets