Rum­ble at the Rec

The RFU’s 24/Sev­ens com­pe­ti­tion reaches its cli­max this month with Fi­nals Day at Bath, says Alan Pearey

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AWAY FROM Ed­die Jones and his Eng­land squad, there are nu­mer­ous RFU ini­tia­tives that go on un­der the radar. One such wor­thy project is the Se­cure Trad­ing 24/Sev­ens Se­ries, which launched last year and pro­vided sev­ens com­pe­ti­tion for over 6,000 play­ers.

This year it has been ex­panded to cater for So­cial and In­vi­ta­tional Elite sides, along­side the Open cat­e­gory that was won in 2016 by Lon­don team Seven­ty7s at Al­lianz Park.

Formed by old boys of Emanuel School in Bat­tersea, Seven­ty7s have been on the sev­ens cir­cuit for six years and in­clude fi ve sets of brothers. “It was four sets but Max Lufkin, 16, has joined this year – the fi rst wa­ter boy to make the team!” says skip­per Harry White­ley.

Lo­cal qual­ifi ers have been held at 38 sites across Eng­land and this month sees re­gional play- offs at Sixways, Lon­don Ir­ish’s Hazelwood Cen­tre, Top­sham in Devon and West Park, Leeds for the right to com­pete on Na­tional Fi­nals Day at Bath’s Re­cre­ation Ground on 29 July.

Seven­ty7s must first ne­go­ti­ate the South-East qual­ifi er at Hazelwood on 8 July and White­ley says: “Each year there are more and more new teams but you see a lot of fa­mil­iar faces. We keep our team the same.

“Sev­ens is a fan­tas­tic sport but it has a low profi le. If Eng­land win a tour­na­ment in the World Se­ries, no­body knows about it. 24/Sev­ens helps to grow the profi le and there are some fan­tas­tic young play­ers.”

None more so than 6ft 6in wing Jer­maine Olasan, who was Player of the Tour­na­ment at last year’s Fi­nals Day and has since trained with Eng­land Sev­ens.

“They’re keep­ing an eye on his devel­op­ment,” White­ley says of his team-mate. “Last year was his fi rst year of sev­ens so it was quite some­thing for him – he used to be a long jumper but de­cided that was a lonely sport and wasn’t for him. He’s been a rev­e­la­tion. His dream is to play for Eng­land Sev­ens.”

The 24/Sev­ens Fi­nals Day is a great day out fea­tur­ing men’s and women’s com­pe­ti­tions. Tick­ets are free and will be avail­able from Eng­landRugby.com/24Sevens n

Open cham­pi­ons Seven­ty7s are named af­ter a bus route that most of the play­ers took to school

Rev­e­la­tion Jer­maine Olasan

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