Rugby sevens has flourished in recent years, since its humble beginnings at Melrose Rugby Football Club in 1883.
Competitions are enjoyed throughout the country, ranging from club tournaments, school competitions, regional series, university events, the Premiership sevens and the IRB World Series.
Whilst sevens festivals are taking shape all across the country, with more this year than ever, the international circuit traditionally finishes with the Twickenham Sevens in London. New Zealand lifted the season’s trophy on that day; however, this year there is one more international showdown on the calendar – the Commonwealth Games.
Rugby Sevens has been a part of the Games for the previous four tournaments, debuting in 1998 in Malaysia and New Zealand have won every tournament since its inception.
With just a couple of weeks left before some of the biggest names in rugby sevens travel to Scotland the teams are beginning to prepare for an almighty clash in Glasgow.
One side who have impressed throughout this year’s campaign though is England. The men in white have recorded a number of high profile victories over the world’s biggest opposition this year, but have just struggled to find the consistency that would have given them the ultimate prize.
Last week Head Coach Simon Amor named his squad to travel down to Glasgow with familiar faces John Brake, Dan Norton, Tom Powell and James Rodwell bring the experience to the side having competed in Delhi four years ago whilst eight players will make their Commonwealth Games debuts.
Charlie Hayter who recently signed for England Sevens from Wasps, and London Scottish captain Mark Bright, earn their places after impressing in the first two rounds of the FIRA-AER European Grand Prix Series.
Amor has largely stuck with the same contingent that finished third at the Marriott London Sevens - the final event of the HSBC Sevens World Series - in May with eight players retaining their spots.
Brake and Mike Ellery have both recovered from injuries in time to be selected while Tom Mitchell continues as captain.
One final tournament stood between England and the Commonwealth Games – the inaugural Sevens and the City festival held at Allianz Park.
Saracens’ David Strettle and Matt Stevens came together to put on one of the country’s newest and most exciting sevens festivals at one of the country’s leading rugby grounds.
The Talking Rugby Union team headed south to the ground to catch all the action and speak to the teams and their coaches ahead of the Commonwealth Games.
TRU’s Austin Halewood caught up with Simon Amor during the day and asked him how important this new tournament is to their preparation as they pitted themselves against Wales, Scotland, Barbados and others, all competing in the tournament.
“It’s certainly a fantastic tournament,” Simon began, “certainly in terms of our preparation for the Commonwealth Games in a few weeks’ time, the opportunity to play against some other international teams.
“To be stressed in a different way to what we are used to day in day out in training and to be part of a multi-sport event like this – it’s fantastic preparation for us.”
Having picked the squad just a few days before, Simon reflected on his selections and how the squad was shaping up ahead of the Games.
“The squad’s progressed well, you know. It’s good to have a couple of weeks’ break after London 7’s. We made good progress there and in the series so far but to get that break and the chance for the guys to switch off after a long season is important.
“Since then we have been slowly ramping it up and I’ve been pleased with how we have progressed. We’ve added different parts to our game which is great and the squad selected is a good balance between footwork and speed, power and physicality.
“So if we can keep making progress like that and step it up we have a good chance of doing well in the Commonwealth Games.”
Hear the entire exclusive interview with Simon in the video above, as he looks at the competition England will face in Glasgow and which England players are the ones to watch out for in the tournament.
Make sure you stay tuned to Talking Rugby Union in the build up to and throughout the Games as we will be bringing you all the best insight, interviews, reaction and analysis from the Commonwealth Sevens.