Evans eager for 7s challenge
Today we caught up with new Academy recruit Ollie Evans who will captaining Wasps’ Premiership Rugby 7s squad set to compete at Franklins Gardens tonight.
Having spent most of his youth playing high level tennis and even achieving a world ranking, Evans is a relative latecomer to high level rugby and the oldest member of Wasps’ Academy at 24-years-old. He and the rest of the squad are looking forward to the challenge ahead.
“The ultimate dream would be to play fifteens in the first team here at Wasps, but I really enjoy my sevens and can’t wait for the opportunity to play on the big stage at Franklins Gardens. It’s a good chance to test ourselves against really strong opposition and to develop our game through 7s to transfer back to the 15s format.
“The group of lads here are all really good fun, we’re all working hard and I’ve settled in well to the routine. I really enjoy the coaching and the new structure here. I think there’s a really big buzz around the Academy and the first team at Wasps at the moment, and everyone is looking forward to the Premiership Rugby 7s and the season to follow.”
After a wrist injury forced him to give up tennis, Evans fell back in love with rugby and was given the perfect springboard to make up for lost time at Bath University.
“I’ve just finished at Bath University where I did Sports Science, and had a really fun three years of my life. In terms of rugby it was great because the University set-up was really good, with great coaching and I got the chance to play ‘A’ League for Bath Rugby. I’m glad to be in the real world now and cracking on with the rugby.”
The Premiership Rugby 7s will be the first time Evans will be representing his new club and he highlights how exciting it is for him to be involved in sevens, a sport which is growing in popularity.
“With the IRB getting more noticed through the Olympics and Commonwealth Games 7s and the coverage increasing, tournaments like the World Club 7s at Twickenham and the Premiership Rugby 7s are creating more excitement. Some people are aiming to be professional sevens players now, as opposed to ten years ago where everyone wanted to play fifteens and you’d play sevens on the side. The sport is getting more popular and it’s so exciting because there are so many tries - there’s no doubt that it’s a growing sport.”
Not only will Evans be pulling on the ‘Black and Gold’ for the first time tonight, but the burly centre will also be leading his side out and he is quick to point out how exciting it is for him to have been offered this opportunity.
“It really is a great honour for me and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve had a little bit of experience. I recently captained Bath to the BUCS national championship and really enjoyed the experience. I surprised myself at how much I enjoyed it and how well we did, because I hadn’t been captain before.
Wasps face a tough pool with Saracens, Harlequins and Northampton Saints to contend with, all of whom are bursting with youthful talent, however Evans remains unfazed by the three tough encounters ahead.
“Sarries and Quins especially have done really well in tournaments, and Northampton won Bury St Edmunds this year, so they’ll have a good outfit who are all used to playing with each other. Quins always have a few specialists, like Ollie Lindsay-Hague and Charlie Walker in previous years, so I’m sure it will be a good side whoever they put out.“
For any of the Wasps faithful considering the trip, tonight represents a thrilling opportunity to see the strength in depth which exists at the Club as it builds towards a promising new era, and Evans is intent on capitalising on his opportunity. He is also quick to encourage Wasps fans to sample the sevens atmosphere, saying, “Come down, get behind us and enjoy the atmosphere! We’ve got a good set of players and I’m confident we have a squad who will give everything out there and hopefully give our supporters something to cheer about.”