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