The Ospreys have named a squad of twelve ahead of the first ever National Academy Sevens Tournament, which takes place at Newbury RFC this weekend.
The squad, which is coached by Ospreys Skills Coach and former Wales Sevens Coach Gruff Rees, along with Keith Hollifield, is as follows:
Ben Thomas, Ben Davies, Will Taylor, Tom Carney, Gareth Harvey, Liam Powell, Ben John,
Daniel Davies, Chris Banfield (c), Tom Prydie, Rhys Thomas and Eli Walker.
The competition will see 16 teams from across the UK battling for the Futures Cup, including nine Guinness Premiership teams, five NL 1 sides and Newport Gwent Dragons. The Ospreys have been drawn in a pool with Berkshire, London Irish and Bedford.
Gruff Rees commented:
"We are looking forward to this event and have been preparing hard in recent weeks. Sevens provides an excellent opportunity for young players to improve their skill levels, which will help when it comes to the full fifteen-man game. It will be an enjoyable day for the players, and they will be testing themselves against some very good sides. Sevens has a reputation in some quarters as a bit of fun, but we will be taking the competition very seriously as it would be a tremendous achievement for us to be the first ever winners of what will, I'm sure, become a very prestigious tournament in years to come."
The National Academy Sevens 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. Targeting the Under-19 age group, it is also aimed at a growing and vibrant seven-a-side rugby global scene that has witnessed the shortened version of the game grow in popularity.
"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.
"There 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.
"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."
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.