The National Academy Sevens takes place this Saturday, May 9th, at Newbury RFC and will see 16 teams from across the UK battling for the Futures Cup.
It is the brainchild of former Neath flanker and now Henley RFC rugby director Jason Forster, the ex-Wales international back-row, who has received support for across the rugby spectrum.
The National Academy Sevens, targeting the Under-19 age group, is also aimed at a growing and vibrant seven-a-side rugby global scene which has witnessed the shortened version of the game grow in amazing popularity.
And it is attracting some big names already - with Wasps one of nine Guinness Premiership sides competing as part of the 16 club and regions set to send a team to the event which starts at 11am.
The Wasps squad confirmed today includes some great aspiring talents with a few familiar names to regular Wasps supporters - Arthur Ellis and Will East both recently featuring in Wasps A League campaign and currently on the fringe of the England U20s set up. Christian Wade, Jack Wallace and Will Jones have all recently collected time with England U18s and Alex Fan, a member of Wasps Academy Apprenticeship, also receives a nod showing the great development blend put forward for the tournament.
Looking ahead to the tournament, London Wasps Academy Manager Rob Smith said, "I am delighted that we will be competing in this great competition. It is a great concept allowing academy players across the country to compete against players within their own age group at club level. The event is a great opportunity for our young players to pick up further game time and also provides 7s and England selectors with a great stage. I am sure that supporters and players alike will enjoy the tournament and I wish our players the best of luck."
Ryan Long (Back Row), Arthur Ellis (Hooker), Alex Fan (Back Row), Christoph Bart (Centre), Sam Jones (Back Row), Jack Wallace (Full Back), Tom Lukjaniec (Fly Half),Will Fulton (Fly Half), Will East (Centre), Tom Shiel (Wing),Will Jones (Wing ),Christian Wade (Wing)
Organiser Forster added: "First and foremost, I'd like to thank Newbury RFC for hosting this inaugural National Academy Sevens which will only get bigger and better as the years progress. There are a lot of sevens tournaments that take place around the country but what I want to specifically do is target a certain area. here does not seem to be a great deal for the Under-19 age group. They just seem to train all the time so this is a day dedicated to them, to showcase their talent and see who is the best Under-19 Academy around the UK at the moment."
"We have nine of the Premiership sides and all of them have indicated they will come in next year, likewise with the Welsh regional sides. Hopefully, it will grow and attract the Scottish and Irish regional sides and their academies and then, who knows where it will go. We hope it will grow internationally. "The focus on the day belongs to these youngsters and it is also an opportunity for the coaches around the country to assess the talent that is coming through at that level."
Forster has some vastly-experienced help in ensuring the National Academy Sevens is a roaring success. The Rugby Football Union have given their blessing, while Tony McArthur, the man behind the legendary Henley Sevens which was one of the great 'days out' in rugby for years and went international themselves in the last 1990s when Fiji entered a side.
The competition has been put together in a matter of a few short months, but Forster added: "We will have 12 months to organise after this one on May 9 so it will go from strength to strength."
Tickets for the day cost £10 (adults) with concessions for children, OAPs and families.
Situated at Monks Lane, Newbury, Berkshire (telephone: 01635 40103) and easily accessible by car from Junction 13 of the M4 motorway.
By car: From Junction 13, M4 (source: Google Maps)
Head south on the A34 for six-and-a-half miles.
Take the A343 exit towards Highclere
At the roundabout, take the first exit onto the A343 (Andover Road/Sandpit Hill) and continue on that road for around one-and-a-half miles
At the roundabout, take the second exit onto Monks Lane and, after 200 metres, turn right into Newbury RFC
By train: There are regular mainline services from all parts of the country to Newbury town centre where you can catch a bus or taxi to Newbury RFC. Suggested services (source. www.nationalrail.co.uk)
By bus to ground (from Newbury): Service number 3A (Newbury bus station). Destination: Greenham Monks Surgery. 9.25am and every hour afterwards. Ten minutes journey (ie: 10.25am reaches Newbury RFC at 10.35am)