GB Sevens men have announced their wider training squad for the Rio Olympics which includes a combination of sevens specialists and 15-a-side players from England, Scotland and Wales.
The 25 players will gather on 30 May for a seven-week intensive training period involving a programme of four international competitions. Dan Norton, international captains Tom Mitchell and Luke Treharne, and experienced players such as Scotland’s Mark Robertson and Scott Riddell are among the 19 sevens specialists included , although there is no space for current sevens captain Scott Wight. They’ll train alongside a handful of 15s players including Mark Bennett, Cory Allen and Joe Simpson. A full list is at the end of the post.
There will be just 12 places in the final Team GB squad for Rio that will be announced together with the women’s squad on 19 July.
Team GB Sevens Head Coach Simon Amor said: “We have watched a significant amount of footage throughout the season of 15-a-side players and every sevens game from England, Scotland and Wales. Exciting talent was available to us and competition for places was tough. We’re now really looking forward to bringing this group together as one team and creating an incredible Great Britain spirit.”
“For the 15s players aiming to make that transition, recent sevens experience at the top level was important given how much the world of sevens rugby has progressed in the last three to four years. We were also targeting players in certain key positions to add strength in depth and complement the qualities of the specialists we already have.”
Bennett, who was nominated for Breakthrough Player of the Year after the Rugby World Cup, represented Scotland Sevens at the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and prior to that featured on the World Series in 2013, the same season in which Cory Allen played for Wales. The change of pace – an increase, most likely – could do Bennett good as he has struggled to repeat the form he showed between the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup in 2015.
This month’s Hello magazine cover star Stuart Hogg is rumoured to have been among the Scotland players potentially looked at for inclusion, but has committed himself to the Japan tour and his impending wedding.
Leadership and experience is provided through a number of sevens specialists including James Rodwell, who set a new world record earlier this year after playing in 69 consecutive tournaments, and Scott Riddell who has competed in two Commonwealth Games, two Sevens World Cups and played in almost every minute of Scotland’s 2013-14 and 2014-15 World Series’ campaigns.
Scotland are also represented in the 7s coaching group where Stevie Gemmell features.
As part of Olympic preparations, two GB sevens squads will compete in four tournaments including the Rugby Europe Sevens Series in Moscow (4-5 June), Exeter (9-10 July) and Gdynia (16-17 July) as well as Sevens and the City at Allianz Park (2 July).
GB Sevens Men:
Cory Allen (Cardiff Blues)
Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors)
Dan Bibby (England Sevens)
Tom Bowen (England Sevens)
Phil Burgess (England Sevens)
Sam Cross (Wales Sevens)
James Davies (Scarlets)
Alex Davis (England Sevens)
Richard de Carpentier (England Sevens)
Jamie Farndale (Scotland Sevens)
Alex Gray (England Sevens)
Charlie Hayter (England Sevens)
Warwick Lahmert (England Sevens)
Ollie Lindsay-Hague (Harlequins)
Gavin Lowe (Scotland Sevens)
Ruaridh McConnochie (England Sevens)
Tom Mitchell (England Sevens)
Luke Morgan (Wales Sevens)
Dan Norton (England Sevens)
Scott Riddell (Scotland Sevens)
Mark Robertson (Scotland Sevens)
James Rodwell (England Sevens)
Joe Simpson (Wasps)
Luke Treharne (Wales Sevens)
Marcus Watson (Newcastle Falcons)
The GB Sevens squad will be led by the following management group in Rio:
Simon Amor (Team GB Sevens Head Coach), Gareth Williams (Team GB Sevens Assistant Coach), Stevie Gemmell (Team Leader), Dan Cooper (Performance Analyst), Dan Howells (Strength and Conditioning Coach), Jo Larkin (Doctor), Remi Mobed (Physio)
In addition the following staff will support the programme over the first seven weeks: Ali Little (Physio, Scotland Sevens), Eifion Roberts (Strength and Conditioning, Wales Sevens) and Adam Fuge (Performance Analyst, Wales Sevens)