Wales Sevens head coach Paul John has selected a strong blend of experience and talent in the squad for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.
Cross Keys back row Jevon Groves leads a side which includes two Rugby World Cup Sevens winners in Richie Pugh and Lee Wiliams who return to the side after an eighteen month absence. There are three uncapped Sevens players in the squad with Wales wing Tom Prydie and fellow Ospreys flier Kristian Phillips both earning a place in the 12-man squad, along with Llanelli lock Aaron Shingler.
The remaining six places go to experienced Wales Sevens players who have been regular squad members since the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai in March 2009, with Jevon Groves, Ifan Evans and Alex Cuthbert participating in all eight of the 2009/10 IRB Sevens World Series tournaments.
John said, “We are very pleased with our preparations in the build-up to the Commonwealth Games. We have had two training camps, the first to RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire and the second last week in Scotland.
“We are extremely grateful to both the clubs and Regions for the release of players to us for this once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s a boost to the squad to have Rugby World Cup Sevens winners Richie Pugh and Lee Williams back in the fold. Their experience at both in sevens and in the fifteen-a-side game will be vital as we know the tournament in Delhi will be fiercely contested with medals at stake.
“It is great too to have young Ospreys Tom Prydie and Kristian Phillips on board. Although both are inexperienced at the Sevens game, both have performed well in recent competitions and in training. Although Tom is already a Wales international, this is a great opportunity for him and one that I have no doubt, will improve his game.
“The squad has gelled really well, with most of the players having trained and played together throughout last season. We have India, Tonga and South Africa in Pool A and if we progress to the quarter-final stage, we will face the winners or runners-up from Pool B – New Zealand, Scotland, Canada or Guyana. That has to be our aim – to reach the quarters and to have the belief to go further as we did at the Rugby World Cup Sevens.
“We’re looking forward to being part of Team Wales and experiencing the unique, multi-sport environment that is the Commonwealth Games. We have heard good reports from Team Wales who are already settled into our quarters in Delhi and we also know that the rugby venue adequately meets the required standards.”
The Wales Sevens squad complete their Commonwealth Games preparations in Dubai next week before continuing onto Delhi ahead of the Rugby Sevens competition at Delhi University on October 11-12.
Wales Sevens Commonwealth Games squad:
Jevon Groves (capt, Cross Keys), Richie Pugh (Scarlets), Ifan Evans (Llandovery), Rhys Shellard (Cardiff), Aaron Shingler (Scarlets), Lee Rees (Scarlets), Lee Williams (Scarlets), Rhys Jones (Newport), Gareth Davies (Cardiff), Tom Prydie (Ospreys), Kristian Phillips (Ospreys), Alex Cuthbert (Blues)
For further information, contact Liz Jones WRU communications manager tel 07736 056669 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Wales Sevens Player Biogs
Club: Cross Keys
Born: 3.4.88, Llantrisant
Position: Back row in fifteen-a-side rugby, forward in Sevens
Junior and youth rugby: Llantrisant
Former senior clubs: Blues academy, Llantrisant, Cardiff
Education: Just completed degree in sport and exercise at Glamorgan University
“This side has developed its own style and game plan but it would be great to emulate the success of the Rugby World Cup Sevens side.
“We have had the best preparation so far for this tournament so there is no reason we can’t expect to compete with the best sides if not beat them.”
Born: 5.4.90, Gloucester
Education: Hartbury College
Junior and Youth rugby: N/A
Previous senior clubs: UWIC
Alex represented England Schools at 400m and was only introduced to rugby at the age of 17 by former Newport and Wales A coach Allan Lewis while at Hartbury College. He was spotted by Wales Sevens coach Paul John while playing for the Marauders at the 2009 Middlesex Sevens and played for Wales in all eight of last season’s IRB Sevens World Series tournaments. Alex’s mother is Welsh and hails from Wrexham.
Occupation: Sports Business Management Degree student, UWIC
“Being asked to join Paul John’s Wales Sevens squad after last season’s Middlesex Sevens was an amazing opportunity for me and after playing on the IRB circuit last season, I’m now a member of the Blues academy which is a fantastic first step on the ladder towards being a professional rugby player. I think we can do well at the Commonwealth Games, we’ve got a good squad so we’ve got every chance.”
Born: 2.3.84, Caerphilly
Position: Outside half
Education: Lewis Boys Comprehensive School, Pengam
Junior and Youth rugby: Penallta RFC
Previous senior clubs: Penallta
Occupation: Self-employed carpenter and semi-professional rugby player
“This selection is certainly a career highlight for me. I’ve always loved playing rugby and Sevens gives me that extra bit of space to express myself.”
Born: 22.07.83, Aberystwyth
Education: Ysgol Penweddig, Aberystwyth
Junior and youth rugby – Aberystwyth RFC
Occupation: Painter and Decorator and semi-professional rugby player
Proudest moment in rugby career: First IRB Sevens tournament in Hong Kong 2009
On Commonwealth Games: “I’m very proud to be representing my country at the Commonwealth Games, it will certainly be a career highlight.”
Born: 23.8.87, Abergavenny
Education: Brynmawr Comprehensive
Junior and Youth rugby: Nantyglo Juniors, Abergavenny Youth, Newport Youth
Previous senior clubs: Dragons academy, Sale Sharks, Cardiff, Cornish Pirates
Influences: My dad (father Kingsley Jones is a former Wales captain and Sale Sharks director of rugby). “He would always have me practicing my skills in the garden and has provided a lot of advice and encouragement
“Going to the Commonwealth Games would be my biggest achievement so far, my family are very proud. I hope to do as well as I can at Sevens this season and hopefully break into a Regional side.”
Region: Ospreys; Club: Neath
Born: 2.9.90, Neath
Education: Ysgol Ystalyfera, Neath Port Talbot College
Junior rugby: Tonmawr
“I enjoyed playing for Wales Sevens development at the Middlesex Sevens but it’s amazing to be going to the Commonwealth Games, especially with it being a multi-sport environment. You get a lot more room in Sevens but there’s no room for error so the experience is certainly helping my game.
“My main aims this season would be to do well with Neath, get some more Sevens experience and hopefully get some game time with the Ospreys.”
Born: 23.2.92, Bridgend
Position: Wing / full back
Education: Porthcawl Comprehensive
Junior rugby: Bridgend Athletic
Youth rugby: Porthcawl Youth
“The Commonwealth Games is an amazing, once in a lifetime opportunity and a great way to develop my game. I can’t wait.”
Born: 10.8.83, Swansea
Position: Flanker in 15 a side rugby, prop in sevens
Education: Bishop Gore Comprehensive, Swansea
Junior rugby: Mumbles
Youth rugby: Swansea
“As one of the oldest players in the squad, I played in the Wales Sevens side at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games which was a very memorable experience. It was completely different to a rugby-only environment and hopefully I can try and get that across to the other players. You are living and training alongside athletes from other sports and you learn a lot from that.
“The experience of playing in the Rugby World Cup Sevens winning side was incredible and winning that global tournament means that we have the belief that it can be done. Our aim is to get into contention for a medal and anything is possible from there.”
Born: 17.1.91, Swansea
Region: Scarlets; Club: Llandovery
Position: Scrum half in sevens, wing in 15-a-side rugby
Education: Ysgol Tregib, Llandeilo
Occupation: Sports Degree student at Coleg Sir Gar, Llanelli
Junior and Youth rugby: Penygroes Juniors, Hendy Youth
Honours: Wales Under 20 (2010)
“Sevens has opened up a lot of opportunities for me, it’s a new challenge in my rugby development and playing against world class players has given me a lot of experience.”
Born: 26.6.85, Aberdare
Education: St John the Baptist School, Aberdare
Junior and Youth rugby: Aberdare
Previous senior clubs: Pontypridd, Cardiff Blues
International honours: Former Wales U21 captain
Occupation: Semi-professional rugby player and full-time father to Madison Eve, two
Region: Scarlets; Club: Llanelli
Born: 7.8.87, Aldershot
Education: Pontarddulais Comprehensive, Gorseinon College
Aaron only took up rugby three years ago, switching from cricket where he was contracted to Glamorgan and represented England at Under 19 level. In his first season for Llanelli, he picked up the Principality Premiership Best Newcomer Award.
“I’m looking forward to the experience of the Delhi Commonwealth Games, it will be a great experience that will also help my rugby development.”
Occupation: Full time rugby
Born: 27.10.86, Carmarthen
Position: Scrum half in sevens, wing in 15-a-side rugby
Junior and youth rugby: Pontyberem
Education: Maes yr Yrfa, Cefneithin (Carmarthenshire)
Occupation: Full time rugby
Influences: Brother Adrian
“Having been part of the Rugby World Cup Sevens winning squad, I can hopefully bring some of those experiences to this year’s core players who are looking good having been around the world for the last year and a half.”