GB Sevens are delighted to confirm their initial training squads for the forthcoming campaign.
Made possible by an innovative commercial partnership with The National Lottery, GB7s will operate a banded pay structure which will give equal opportunities across both the men’s and women’s programmes to be financially rewarded at the same level.
Women’s head coach Scott Forrest has selected a group of 19 players which features a number of experienced names who have competed in recent years on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series events and at international XVs level.
16 members of the squad have played club rugby in the Allianz Premier 15s throughout the 2020/21 season to date. The initial squad includes four players from Rio 2016 including Wales’ Jasmine Joyce and England’s Abbie Brown, Heather Fisher and Amy Wilson Hardy.
Meanwhile, men’s head coach Tony Roques has named a 21 player group which features a host of sevens specialists including five players that previously took home silver from the Rio Olympics in 2016. They include all-time HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series leading try scorer Dan Norton.
They are joined by six players from Scotland including the Scotland 7s captain from 2019/20 Robbie Fergusson and Welsh trio Luke Morgan (Ospreys), Luke Treharne and Morgan Williams.
Both teams will be based at Loughborough University with their first camps set to take place in March ahead of their pre-Olympic tournaments in the lead up to July and the HSBC World Sevens Series 2021, details of which will be announced in due course.
The partnership with The National Lottery is funded from a National Lottery promotional fund. It is not being funded by money allocated for National Lottery Good Causes or by Camelot.
Team leader Charlie Hayter said: “Naming the two squads is a significant milestone for the GB7s programme.
“The collaboration across all three unions and their respective partners has been brilliant to get us to this stage in a short amount of time. I would also like to thank the clubs for their support in allowing players to follow their short-term ambitions of competing at an Olympic Games.
“We are delighted to be able to confirm an equal pay structure up to the Olympics, and are, of course, grateful to the National Lottery for their fantastic support.
“While we are extremely pleased to be able to confirm our squads, the door is not closed for any player and we will continue to monitor all players’ progress over the coming months.
“We are excited to get players and staff on the ground in March as we take our next steps as a programme.”
Forrest said: “It is a very strong 19. The four players from Rio 2016 bring really good experience, as do the English players who have been playing consistently on the World Series for the past couple of seasons. The Scottish and Welsh players have been playing international rugby for a number of years, in both 7s and 15s, and this will be invaluable.
“We appreciate all of the squad have been playing regular rugby over the last year which is a massive strength of our team and how important this has been for their individual growth. A focus for us initially as a GB7s team is to grow the GB7s culture and environment as we now have the opportunity to build something special as a group.
“We feel we have got a really good mix of experience from the last Olympic Games, World Series as well as international rugby but at the same time it’s a very fresh squad which is exciting.
“We know there will be challenges of balancing preparations for Tokyo and the 2021 Rugby World Cup and are working with individual players and all unions to ensure all parties achieve peak performance with player wellbeing of paramount importance.”
Roques said: “We have picked a squad with a huge amount of experience in successful sevens programmes and after what has been a very difficult year, everyone is up for the challenge.
“The whole programme are working exceptionally hard. We are now on virtual calls with the players and you can see there’s excitement about the potential of what we can achieve.
“A lot of our conversations about our values are focussed on enjoying the moment and remembering where we’ve come from.
“Many people are suffering in the world at the moment and we are aware there’s a bigger picture outside of rugby. We are hugely privileged to be given this opportunity and to have the chance to achieve something really special as a group.”
GB Sevens squads
GB Sevens Men
Richard de Carpentier
Alec Coombes (Edinburgh)
Tom Emery (Coventry)
Jamie Farndale (Edinburgh)
Robbie Fergusson (Glasgow Warriors)
Ben Harris (Saracens)
Paddy Kelly (Glasgow Warriors)
Luke Morgan (Ospreys)
Will Muir (Bath)
GB Sevens Women
Holly Aitchison (Saracens Women)
Abbie Brown (Loughborough Lightning)
Abi Burton (Wasps FC Ladies)
Heather Fisher (Worcester Warriors Women)
Deborah Fleming (Saracens Women)
Megan Gaffney (Scotland Women’s Performance Programme)
Hannah Jones (Gloucester-Hartpury)
Megan Jones (Wasps FC Ladies)
Jasmine Joyce (Bristol Bears Women)
Rhona Lloyd (Loughborough Lightning)
Alex Matthews (Worcester Warriors Women)
Helen Nelson (Loughborough Lightning)
Celia Quansah (Wasps FC Ladies)
Chloe Rollie (Harlequins Women)
Helena Rowland (Loughborough Lightning)
Hannah Smith (Scotland Women’s Performance Programme)
Lisa Thomson (Scotland Women’s Performance Programme)
Emma Uren (Saracens Women)
Amy Wilson Hardy (Wasps FC Ladies)