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Former rugby sevens star Sam Cross has backed the Team GB men’s team to bring back a gold medal and prove a point to the unions, writes Milly McEvoy.
The English and Welsh RFUs disbanded their sevens programmes which saw the stars of the game have to look elsewhere for employment, with many playing for clubs in the Gallagher Premiership.
The players have now regrouped as Team GB and will head off to Tokyo in the coming days with Cross believing it is a chance to put sevens back on the map:
“I think it's been a really difficult period. Obviously, the WRU got rid of their seven’s team, the RFU got rid of their sevens team. Ultimately it left people out of jobs.
“It really hindered their prep for Tokyo, people didn't know whether they would be able to go 12 months ago.
“The fact that the National Lottery have come in and funded the Team GB Rugby Sevens is massively important.
“I think that will really galvanise the group, with the experiences they had of not knowing and that uncertainty of not thinking they could go to a Games, now they're being brought together and funded.
“They will be out to prove a point to the unions that disbanded the rugby programme and it'd be nothing better than that than winning a gold medal and bringing sevens into the limelight again,” said Cross who is working with Purplebricks to encourage the nation to get behind Team GB on their journey to Tokyo.
Cross was a part of the men’s team that won silver as rugby sevens made its debut at the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016 and he believes his former teammates can go on to claim the title this time around.
A star player for Team GB could be Dan Norton who is the leading all-time try scorer with 354 tries in the sevens game.
“I'm going to be quite ambitious and say hopefully they go one better than we did in Rio, and they bring back a gold medal.
“I think they've got the players to achieve up, hopefully, they go get the job done.
“Dan Bibby, Tom Mitchell, both halfbacks they've got a great partnership with each other. They've obviously played with each other for a long time.
“I played with them right away from students went to a Student Olympics together, then we went to the actual Olympics together, which is pretty cool.
“Then Dan Norton as well, obviously the try scorer. He is getting on now, but his pace doesn't seem to be fading. So, I'm sure he’ll be up on the scoreboards out in Tokyo quite a bit.
“I think the medal hopes will rely on them guys performing, but I have no doubt that they will.”
Sam Cross is working with Purplebricks to encourage the nation to get behind Team GB on their journey to Tokyo, with the same amazing home support as London 2012. Visit @PurplebricksUK. To enter the draw to receive one of 2,020 limited edition prints, visit https://page.purplebricks.co.uk/teamgb_homesupport/