Double hat-trick hero Venner ‘honoured’ to represent Bristol Bears in Premiership Rugby 7s
Toby Venner described his first Bristol Bears experience as ‘surreal’ after he announced himself on the senior stage in sensational fashion with a double hat-trick in the Premiership Rugby 7s.
The youngster was one of three Hartpury guest players to earn a call-up for Bristol and he more than repaid the faith shown in him under the Friday night lights at Franklin’s Gardens.
Venner crossed the whitewash three times to help Bristol secure a last-gasp comeback win against Northampton Saints before repeating the feat in the 28-22 victory over Harlequins.
His back-to-back trebles ensured Bristol booked their place in the final eight as top seeds – and Venner admitted he felt privileged to be able to represent the club in Northampton.
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“It feels pretty surreal at the minute but it’s just come off all the hard work of all the lads on the pitch and it’s an honour to play for Bristol, I’m loving every minute,” he said.
“A couple of the lads in the squad are from Hartpury so it’s nice to run out with a few of them as well and Hartpury and Bristol have had good links for a long time.
“They have helped us with some players and we are helping them out with a few Hartpury lads so it’s just great for us to be a part of this.
“This is the first time I’ve been near anything like this and it came as a bit of a shock at first, but I’m just loving it. The lads out there have the skill set, they have the speed.
“This squad has everything that we need to be a good sevens teams and we also showed good grit and determination in both of the two games that we’ve had.”
Bristol’s back-to-back wins saw the West Country outfit finish at the summit of Pool C, setting up a mouth-watering quarter-final rematch against runners-up Harlequins.
It is a significant improvement on the club’s performance in the same competition last year when they lost both of their pool games before being knocked out of the Plate by Gloucester.
In addition to Venner and his Hartpury teammates, Sean Marsden’s squad also includes academy stars such as Ioan Lloyd, Will Capon, Nathan Chamberlain and Aaron Chapman.
And despite the team having had little time playing together as a unit beforehand, Venner is confident about their chances going into the business end of the tournament.
“Fair play to the boys, it’s been great to be a part of,” he said. “It feels unreal to have secured a quarter-final place, we just want to get back, get some sleep and make sure we’re ready.
“We’ve hardly had any time together, we’ve trained once and that was the morning before, but the boys flew into it and it was a really good session.
“Everyone has attacked this tournament with really good attitude and it’s paying off. It’s the biggest honour I’ve had to date representing Bristol Bears, I’m loving every minute of it.
“It’s a great group of lads, a great support staff behind it and it’s just brilliant to be in this sort of environment. Bristol play a good style of rugby and it’s great to play with some of those boys.
“We’ve had two good wins but there are still some work-ons from both. It’s exciting to see what we can do if we nail those down going into the quarter-finals.”