Gillespie determined to grasp Premiership Rugby 7s opportunity
Northampton Saints’ youngest ever player of the professional era is hoping this year’s Premiership Rugby 7s can springboard him on to Gallagher Premiership Rugby success.
Flying wing Josh Gillespie achieved that youngest ever Saint accolade coming off the bench in the Premiership Rugby Cup last season at the age of 18 years and 15 days, and is in the squad for the Premiership Rugby 7s this weeekend.
The annual curtain-raiser to Gallagher Premiership Rugby returns to Franklin’s Gardens again this summer as the home of Northampton Saints plays host for the third year running.
“What’s great about Premiership Rugby 7s is that some of us young guys don’t always get lots of opportunities to play in the first team until you’re 21 or 22,” said Gillespie.
“Playing here in the 7s when we’re 18, 19, 20, showing the fans what we can do and make a name for ourselves is great.
“You show people what’s coming up in the next year, give them some hope and then it gives us gameplay so we can learn and get better.
“I really hope to make my debut in the Gallagher Premiership this season and get as many minutes as I possibly can coming off the bench.
“If someone gets injured I need to be ready to step up – Boydy (director of rugby Chris Boyd) has really changed the game for us, we’re playing more expansive rugby with quite a quick backline.
“He’s given loads of opportunities to youngsters and last year quite a few boys made their debut, so I’ll hopefully get the same this year.”
Chosen as the venue for the ‘Olympic-style’ version of the tournament for the last two seasons, Franklin’s Gardens will once again become the backdrop for Premiership Rugby 7s on Friday 13 and Saturday 14 of September.
The tournament traditionally shines a light on some of the most exciting young talent in the country and Gillespie is certainly that, having played in last year’s edition and also represented England U18s.
The teenager hopes to follow in the footsteps of other Millfield School pupils who’ve played in the top flight of English rugby, the likes of Chris Robshaw and Mako Vunipola, but is first looking forward to those home comforts at Premiership Rugby 7s.
“Playing in front of the home fans will be great,” Gillespie added. “It’s a really important stadium for me since I grew up here.
“I played a bit of sevens at school, Rosslyn Park Sevens finals at U16s, but I haven’t too much in recent times.
“I enjoy the fast play – being a winger playing sevens is sometimes more fun because you get the ball a lot, it’s very up and down.
“There is a lot of running involved so it’s quite exhausting but if you’ve got the fitness it can be great fun.
“It’ll be good to express ourselves in front of our home fans, the crowd here is fantastic.”
All 12 Premiership Rugby sides will face off over two days of competition in Northampton. Reigning champions Saracens will kick off their title defence against Sale Sharks on a blockbuster first day of action.
See all 2019 Premiership Rugby 7s fixtures here