England sevens pair look to make their initial Wasps mark
Date: 25 Jul 2018
For many top-flight rugby players, the annual Premiership Sevens, which this year takes place at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, brings back distant school-day memories of Rosslyn Park.
By contrast, for two of Wasps’ summer academy signings the opening salvo of the new campaign is much more familiar territory, since both Callum Sirker and Will Wilson were last season part of Simon Amor’s England sevens squad.
Indeed, in addition to being part of the U20 15-a-side World Cup in Georgia, flying winger Sirker spent the last two seasons being part of the international sevens scene and clearly benefitted hugely from the experience.
“I was part of the sevens circuit for two years,” he recalled, “and really enjoyed playing in some great tournaments in some brilliant stadiums.
“Hong Kong was probably the highlight, but close behind it was singing our anthem at Twickenham before playing Scotland in a final.
“I’ll also always remember playing against France in Paris when there was an amazing atmosphere – it was deafening.”
Wasps 2018 Premiership sevens skipper Owain James
Wilson, a combative back-rower with two Oxford blues to his name, turns his hand to hooking in the abbreviated version of the game, and does so well enough to have appeared alongside his new clubmate in an international shirt.
“I had nine months involvement with the sevens squad on an informal basis,” he said.
“I did pre-season last year with England then rejoined them after the Varsity Match and was lucky enough to play in Hong Kong in April.
“I’m massively looking forward to the Premiership Sevens; it is obviously a game I’ve become very familiar with.
“I played last year as a guest for Saracens, and it’s a really fun competition. It’s a different style to the international circuit and is a lot more physical.”
With academy manager Jon Pendlebury at the helm, Wasps face Gloucester and hosts Northampton in pool A on Friday evening before the knock-out stages take centre stage on Saturday.
And Sirker says black-and-gold preparations are well-progressed for a competition in which the club has enjoyed great success over the last three years.
“It’s not easy to put a sevens team together in a short period, but the boys are really grafting and it is all going well,” he noted.
“We’re getting some great leadership from the coaches and our captain Owain James, then Will and I are chipping in with input here and there.
“We’ve got two tough games in the pool but hopefully with Franklin’s Gardens being reasonably local for us we’ll get some support.
“Gloucester always do well in the sevens and are sure to put out a good side, while facing Northampton on their home ground is never easy.
“The Saints game is also the last game of the evening when there is likely to be a good atmosphere and plenty of noise which hopefully we can use to our advantage.”