An exciting month of sevens rugby lies ahead, with Premiership Sevens kicking off at Cardiff Arms Park this Friday. This will be the third time the welsh regions have competed in the tournament, with two sides guaranteed to qualify for the August finals in Coventry. The Newport Gwent Dragons go into the showpiece event as defending champions, having beaten Gloucester in last year’s final.
This year’s tournament will provide the perfect backdrop for the Olympic Games, which – incredibly – features rugby for the first time since the 1920s.
It should come as little surprise. The World Sevens series has gone from strength to strength in the past decade, taking its vibrant brand of high-tempo and entertaining rugby across the globe and establishing itself in some of the World’s most colourful and desirable locations (Hong Kong, Cape Town, Las Vegas). It’s profile continues to grow at pace. Footage I’ve seen at some of the tournament make it look like a carnival, a celebration of the sport. The speed at which the game is played and the often high-scoring nature of the matches means it has the potential to appeal to wider audiences, and not just the rugby purists. All the while, it retains the core values of teamwork and respect for which rugby (for the most part) prides itself. In short, it’s the perfect Olympic sporting event!
The make-up of Team GB’s sevens squad is yet to be determined, although news broke yesterday that Bridgend’s Luke Morgan, of Wales Sevens, has picked up a knee injury, ruling him out of the tournament. With so many hugely talented players across the home nations, I hope to see Team GB in the mix for a medal, although I know we have been drawn alongside the might All Blacks in the group stages. They – like us – have several 15-a-side players vying for a place in the team, with the likes of Sonny Bill Williams hoping to make his presence known in Rio.