Great Britain: England, Scotland and Wales to combine for World Rugby Sevens Series

·3-min read
 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

The Rugby Football Union (RFU), Scottish Rugby and Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) have announced that they will be combining their men’s and women’s outfits to form Great Britain Sevens (GB) teams ahead of the 2022/23 World Rugby Sevens Series.

World Rugby has approved and endorsed the decision which aligns the RFU, Scottish Rugby and WRU’s future direction of Sevens and connection to its status at the Olympics.

Exciting new era

The endorsement of Olympic teams from the 2023/24 campaign means all three unions accept the significance of moving to GB from the upcoming campaign (2022/23) to embrace this new era with GB as the official side on the World Series in future.

It means GB will replace England, Scotland and Wales in the men’s tournament and England in the women’s competition, but each country will continue to operate individually for the Commonwealth Games and Rugby World Cup, depending on whether they qualify for those events.

The RFU, Scottish Rugby and WRU are still holding talks with World Rugby regarding further participation and opportunities for teams from England Scotland and Wales. GB’s men’s team won a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and finished fourth at the Tokyo Games last year, while their women’s side finished in fourth position on both occasions.

One year before the Tokyo Olympics, GB’s men’s and women’s teams’ prospects looked unfavourable after notable financial cuts were made to their Sevens programme.

Despite receiving a cash injection ahead of the Olympics via a commercial partnership which was agreed upon between the RFU, Scottish Rugby, WRU and The National Lottery promotional fund, there was still uncertainty after the Tokyo Games.

The RFU issued a statement which revealed that coaches and playing squads would be confirmed ahead of the World Sevens Series men’s opener in Hong Kong in November and the women’s launch in Dubai in December.

“The mandating of Olympic teams from the 2023/24 season means all three unions acknowledge the importance of transferring to GB from the forthcoming campaign (2022/23) to embrace this new era with GB as the representative team on the World Series moving forward,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, RFU performance director Conor O’Shea is excited by the new developments.

“This is a seminal day for Sevens,” he said.

“It is the right way forward, giving Team GB a real opportunity to go to the Olympic Games with the right preparation, to compete on a level playing field with other sevens programmes and most importantly, enables us all to give certainty to staff and players as to the future of the programme.

“We will be working hard now to finalise the structures to support GB so we are ready to start the 2023 World Rugby Sevens Series with a bang, moving towards Paris 2024 and beyond.”

Scottish Rugby’s high performance director Jim Mallinder said: “We are acutely aware of Scotland’s heritage and passion for Sevens rugby. As such, we remain fully committed to a Scotland Sevens programme to develop our players and coaches.

Great opportunities for men and women

“The move to a GB sevens team on the World Series will give Scottish players, both men and women, a unique opportunity to represent and compete on the largest global stage through the World Series and Olympic Games.”

And WRU performance director Nigel Walker added: “We will maintain male and female Sevens programmes in Wales to develop players and coaches and make sure there is a pipeline of talent culminating in the opportunity to push for GB selection, and ultimately compete at an Olympics.”

READ MORE: Warren Gatland: Marcus Smith will become ‘world-class’ with more Test-level experience for England

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