The England, Scotland and Wales teams will merge from the 2022-23 campaign
Great Britain to join World Sevens Series
The England, Scotland and Wales sevens teams will merge to form men’s and women’s Great Britain sevens teams for the 2022-23 World Sevens Series.
Since sevens was added to the Olympics, the three countries had combined to play under the Team GB banner at the Games in Rio and Tokyo, but they had competed separately on the World Series.
With the mandating of Olympic teams competing on the series from 2023-24, the RFU, Scottish Rugby and WRU decided to transfer to GB for this upcoming season. The 2022-23 series is part of the qualifying process for the 2024 Games in Paris.
RFU performance director Conor O’Shea praised the move, saying: “This is a seminal day for sevens, 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.”
Sevens was introduced at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, creating a conundrum for the home unions, who have traditionally competed separately in rugby.
Men’s and women’s Great Britain teams were pieced together for this event and the sevens tournaments at Tokyo last year, posing a challenge to create cohesion in a short period.
Responsibility for qualifying also fell to England, the leading British side. That will change from next season, with the British teams on the sevens circuit now responsible for securing a place at the largest sporting event in the world.
Coaches and playing squads for the first series as a GB team will be announced ahead of the men’s campaign beginning this November, and the women’s in December.
The British teams have still been relatively successful at the Olympics, with the men winning silver in 2016 and the women finishing fourth in both Rio and Tokyo.
The teams have been made up primarily of English players, but players such as Scotland’s Mark Bennett and Wales’ Jasmine Joyce have been key members of Olympic squads.
While the three British nations will be more connected than ever before, they will still compete separately at the Commonwealth Games and Sevens World Cup.
Scottish Rugby high performance director Jim Mallinder expressed his excitement over teaming up with England and Wales, but added that growing sevens in Scotland would not be discarded.
“We are acutely aware of Scotland’s heritage and passion for sevens rugby,” he said. “As such we remain fully committed to a Scotland sevens programme to develop our players and coaches.”
A joint statement from the three unions added: “Each union will still be able to utilise sevens as an important part of player and coach development in their bespoke way.”
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