When you see the word 'rascal', you tend to think of people who want to attract attention to themselves.
This might because of their behaviour or the way they are acting, but in the case of the Rascals 7s, their success on the pitch this season is the reason why they are causing a stir.
As the Sevens campaign approaches its grand finale in Nottingham on June 29th, Rascals 7s could well be the main attraction at the end of the month. They currently occupy top spot in the Men’s national standings after victories at Ashby 7s as well as their own Rascals 7s event.
The side travel to Berlin next week for their last tournament before the Sevens Series National Finals and co-captain Jonny Edwards insists his team are vying to be the cream of the crop.
“We’ve had a good season,” Edwards said. “We have played four tournaments and at the start of the season, our aim was to qualify for the National Finals.
“The results we have had so far leaves us at the top of the Secure Trading 24/7 table as it stands. We have got a couple of weeks until those finals so I think we have definitely qualified and we might qualify as first seeds so it has gone really well.”
Alongside their duo of tournament wins, Rascals 7s reached the semi-finals of the Caldy 7s in May and finished as runners-up at Skofic 7s at the start of this month.
Edwards describes the level he and his team-mates compete at as ‘elite’ for amateur 7s sides in England. Rascals 7s enter tournaments across the country which act as qualifiers for the National Finals and after four competitions, Edwards and his side have their sights set on Nottingham.
Key to their success this season has been their mindset. Included in the current squad is Ryan Barrett who was a coach with Wasps in last year’s Premiership 7s at Franklin’s Gardens and Edwards feels Rascals 7s’ progression has revolved around their commitment.
“In the last couple of years, we have turned it up and we have been doing training sessions this year,” he added.
“Ryan Barrett has been leading the coaching and we obviously have some experienced players as well. That training we have been doing, as well as working out game plans, has allowed us to reap the rewards.
“Each year, we have been getting steadily better in terms of results and our squad has been getting stronger too. This year, the main focus has been on the training side of things and people buying into our systems and work ethic.”
Edwards alludes to the experience in the squad and the ex-Stockport man also plies his trade at Bowdon in the XV-a-side game. A few players from the now North One West club are involved with Rascals 7s but one of the main names which has featured for the side this season has been former Sale Sharks player Mark Jennings.
In addition, current 1874 Northwich FC player Lee Jackson has swapped football for rugby in the off-season and Edwards feels the balance in the squad is purely down to ‘word of mouth’ rather than sourcing specific athletes.
View this post on Instagram
Edwards said: “It’s more word of mouth rather than going out and actively recruiting certain individuals. I’ve been playing a long time so I know quite a lot of people!
“A lot of the lads are all friends who live around the same Altrincham and Hale area and you also have the wider connections from different people playing for different clubs.
“It is about people seeing that you are having a good time and enjoying yourself as well as being ultimately successful. People will then want to be involved in that. People do ask to play and we are always adding new players who want to buy into what we are doing which is an important factor.”
This is Edwards’ fourth season with Rascals 7s, but the side won’t be involved in the upcoming Chester 7s on Saturday, which is the final qualifying event in the Cheshire region.
Instead, they are preparing for a trip to the German capital next weekend and Edwards is hoping he and the team can continue their momentum as the National Finals begin to come into view.
“Playing in this team really is enjoyable and it keeps you fit in the summer!” Edwards said. “It is good to do well and win things.
“We aren’t doing Chester this weekend because in the past, we have made the mistake of entering too many tournaments. It is quite tough to do back-to-back tournaments and in the last two weeks, we’ve done Skofic 7s and Ashby. Ashby was tough because we played six games so that was quite hard on the bodies.
“It is a case of continuing to build that momentum with a core group of players and in each tournament, trying to get a bit better. That’s what we have done and we are learning.
“People are getting better and they are playing the system better so hopefully when we hit those National Finals, we will be running at 100 per cent to make sure we leave everything out there and don’t have any regrets in terms of our performance.”