Wasps academy manager “hugely proud” of Premiership Rugby 7s finalists
Wasps academy manager Jon Pendlebury has praised his young side for reaching the finals of the 2018 Premiership Rugby 7s Cup.
The two-time champions missed out on a hat-trick of successive victories after losing 33-12 to Saracens with only nine players fit for the final.
Saracens never looked back after 7s captain Joel Conlon went under the posts twice inside the first minute to set-up a comfortable victory for the 2010 winners.
Despite the loss, Pendlebury was hugely proud of his youthful outfit at Northampton Saints Franklin’s Gardens.
He said: “Other than getting a win and taking a trophy home it couldn’t have been much better for us.
“To only have nine players for the last two games was tough, but the spirit was outstanding. That’s credit to all the staff and players.
“We’ve undergone a massive shift of approach to our academy in the last 15 months, and this weekend everyone involved was either a university contracted player or a senior academy member.
“They are all genuine Wasps, with no guests, and along with the time and effort out in by our coaches, this stands us in really good stead.”
22-year-old loosehead prop Ben Christie saw action in his first Premiership Rugby 7s Cup and helped guide Wasps into the final with an impressive 33-24 victory over 2017 runners-up Newcastle Falcons.
The Ricoh Arena side advanced past the last eight for a fourth year in succession with a 17-10 win against hosts Northampton Saints.
And Scotland U20 international Christie was full of praise for teammates in exceeding expectations and reaching a third final in a row.
He said: “We worked really hard for the first block of pre-season and it is quite gratifying getting to a final. It is a shame that we lost in the final, but we only had eight players left by the end.
“I don’t think we were looking at an end product, we just had to take it one game at a time, just put everything out there and see how we do.
“We were really happy to get to the final, but as a club you have to expect to do well. There was a lot of expectation on us, so I think the boys raised to it.
One of the breakout stars of the 2018 event was former England 7s academy product Will Sirker who scored six tries – including a hat-trick against two-time champions Gloucester Rugby.
And Christie was full of praise for the 7s veteran in guiding Wasps through to the final.
He said: “Callum Sirker is electric, he has got pace, he has got feet, and if you give him space he will do what he does.
“With his experience at 7s he has been a really integral part of the squad in terms of coaching us and telling us how we should be playing the game.”