With England, Scotland and Wales set to stop playing on the World Rugby Sevens Series, we found out how players felt representing their nations in Cape Town
After the Sevens World Cup in Cape Town we will see England, Scotland and Wales cease to play on the World Rugby Sevens Series. Instead, we will see GB Sevens take on the world. A lot is yet to be ironed out for GB, but the individual unions may only be seen at the next Commonwealth Games and/or World Cups.
So as the first leg of the next season begins on 4 November in Hong Kong, we asked members of the three unions what it has been like representing their nation in this last event.
Luke Treharne (Wales men’s sevens)
“It’s something we’ve known has been coming for a little while. But we still don’t know what’s happening in terms of contracts and squads and things for GB, so there’s a bit of unknown there. The main chat from speaking to the Scottish boys and the English boys, it was all about enjoying these last two tournaments – last week we were in LA, and then this massive tournament in Cape Town for the World Cup.
“I think everybody’s just trying to enjoy being in the jersey as much as possible. That being said, I’m sure at the final whistle tomorrow, whenever we finish playing, there will probably be some tears for a lot of players who put a lot into all three jerseys.
“I just want to enjoy it, give it everything just one last time. I think I first came into the setup when I was about 18 and I’m 29 now, so it’s been quite a long time. I don’t want to stop playing rugby yet so if there is an opportunity for me with GB I’ll take it but the thought of not being able to play for Wales again, on the biggest stage in the World Series again, it’s one that got me down a couple of weeks ago. But you deal with it, and then it’s all about smiles on faces, enjoying it as much as possible.
“It’s been all that people have talked about, probably for the last two, three months. Particularly when the home union players have come together, ‘Have you heard X? Have you heard Y? Do you know what’s happening with the contracts?’
“So I think a lot will happen post World Cup and probably happen quite quickly as well. But when I was part of Team GB we did have quite a lot of chatter on what it meant to play for Wales, Scotland and England. And you realise a lot of those common values go throughout the three teams.”
Lee Jones (Scotland men’s sevens)
“It’s the last one, innit.
“Since we’ve heard the news you immediately think about the history that’s in the jersey and all the people who have pulled it on before you and what Scotland sevens has been on the World Series. To lose that, f*** it’s a big blow and I think everybody’s feeling it.
“We heard in the week there from a lot of guys who have pulled on the jersey before and we’ve tried to draw on that in terms of our performance. Our performance out there was disappointing but there’s a lot of history in the jersey and we’re gutted to see it go.
“Talking about the World Cup, when we had the draw (to play) against New Zealand, it’s always gonna be a tough ask. They are definitely one of the best teams in the world. There’s an element of throwing everything at them and we were gonna have to be 100%. Everything had to go right but we had to give it a shot. You’re trying to enjoy the moment because you know what it is to represent Scotland sevens. But ultimately, you’re here to perform and when you don’t it’s hard enjoy. But I think when you step away from it and look at with perspective, it’s just trying to get that last wee bit out of the jersey.
“I owe so much to the game. It gave me a career. it’s given me form, confidence and life experience. It’s given me this comeback at the end which gave me real enjoyment. You just have to look across the squad, with someone like Jamie Farndale who has dominated the sport in a Scottish jerseys and got to 50 tournaments. Look at boys moving over to 15s (Jones played ten Tests for Scotland).
“If you look at the pathway there and (Scotland) having only two pro teams, and what it takes to run this, it’s a real shame to lose it, in the country that started of the sport.
“What Scottish rugby have said is there will be a Scotland sevens team, they’ve just not decided at what level that’s going to run. I know we’re still gonna compete in the Commonwealth Games and World Cup but we want as many Scottish players as possible at the top level. We need Scottish guys represented GB, we need a pathway and a voice.”
Abbie Brown (England women’s sevens)
“It’s a tough one because it’s still kind of going on in the background. We’ve got come here and perform and I think for anyone who’s got things going on back home and then to come from the World Cup, it’s a big ask. and we’ve got a couple of girls who are young. I’m going to be brutally honest, it is tough. But to play in an England shirt is an absolute honour and a privilege.
“Personally, I’ve been able to do for the last eight years. And every time I stepped on that pitch, I’d make sure I’m smiling and make sure I’m loving it with the girls. You win, you lose. Australia are an amazing team – the best in the world at the moment. We ruffled them and that’s what it’s all about. There’s a few things we got wrong and that’s annoying. And more annoying because that’s just gives them easy ball. But at times we really pushed them and yeah, to keep doing it in an English jersey for the rest of the weekend, it’s gonna be a huge honour.
“Obviously it’s a last chance tomorrow but actually we’re just looking at it as: ‘Let’s put our shirts in a really good place for whoever picks it up next – whenever that might be.’
“So for us it’s not just all sorrow and doom gloom, actually. It’s like going ‘Okay, how can I be the best version of myself for my country, for my nation,’ but also to do something that I can be proud of and every time you step on the pitch, being proud of your performances and effort you show.
“You want to push on and, and obviously I’ll take some time after this to reflect on the journey of this year and probably (take time to reflect on) the eight years but actually yeah, it’s about that future. Paris is two years away and of course I’d love to be in that squad to go and do that. It is about the here and now, but ultimately you think of the future. This year it was all about the Commies and now it’s a World Cup.
“It’s about staying present at this World Cup, but then what are your goals and aspirations after that?”
Comment on the transition to GB Sevens
Philippa Tuttiett (former captain of Wales women’s sevens)
“There are a lot of unknowns.
“If I speak selfishly as a Welsh female player, Wales women aren’t on the World Series. They’ve been knocking on the door and they’ve got to qualifiers, but they’ve never quite had the funding or support to get there. So that’s when the likes of Jasmine Joyce lights up the world for two Olympics, but you don’t see her again. So selfishly, I think it’s gonna give some girls from nations where maybe they aren’t supported as well, the opportunity to play in the World Series.
“So from that element, I’m actually quite chuffed. I want to see Welsh girls on the World Series. You’ve got some quality players there.
“But then on the men’s perspective, I think it’s harsh. At times Scotland have been absolutely fantastic. You can see they’re really growing. So now to have that disbanded in a way, is a shame. And then there’s also the complications going into the Commonwealth Games where we will then see these nations back, but how are they going to prepare for that?
“So there are a lot of unknowns, but equally, as long as we’re representing all the nations and everyone gets a fair shot of getting into that Team GB, as long as they’re supported and funded properly, then great.”
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