Yesterday I almost felt like I was back in the middle of the rugby season again as my Twitter feed was on fire filled with rugby related tweets. Ahead of Thursday night’s first JP Morgan 7s meeting at Kingsholm all of the teams involved announced their squads and dealt their cards for the first time this season. The team sheets aren’t filled with well-known names, far from it in fact, the ‘old boys’ are clearly resting and recuperating as the gruelling pre-season sessions rack up and the young guns are given their chance to shine. For the first time the squads also have representatives from various parts of the world with Leicester fielding Blaine Scully from the USA and Harlequins drawing on their international franchises with Jeremy Manning from Abu Dhabi Harlequins and Patrice Agunda from Kenya Harlequins.
Exeter, Gloucester, Worcester and Bath will kick off the 2013 7s at Kingsholm, after such a long time without rugby I’m sure that The Shed will be packed and all 4 teams’ supporters will be in fine voice to welcome rugby back with some Thursday Night Lights. It seems that the kit designers have been getting a little creative for a couple of these teams; Gloucester have recently unveiled a ‘Stade esque’, away kit… for those of you who aren’t familiar with Stade’s colour pallet it focuses around the extremely masculine colour that is pink! Exeter also have a rather delicious new kit complete with superhero background however sadly I don’t think that this lightning bolt background will follow them to match-days, which seems a great shame!
Next stop is Franklin’s Gardens – Leicester Tigers, Northampton Saints, Newcastle Falcons and Sale Sharks will all grapple for a trip to The Rec. The squads are a mixture of internationals, Junior World Cup Winners and experienced 7s players however it is with great sadness that I report that none of Saints’ Lions are taking to the field… that great moment will be left for their first home game of the season on Saturday 7th September against Exeter Chiefs.
Harlequins, London Irish, Saracens and London Wasps will all enjoy their 7s on the artificial grass at Allianz Park, beautiful for speedy 7s not so fun for ‘astro like burns’… it’s a good job that rugby players are hard or so I’m told! London Irish field a team of youngsters, Wasps are led from the front by Tom Varndell and Quins will be looking to continue their 2013 7s success. Personally I think that it will be the home team who finish victorious and who will make the trip to The Rec following Saturday’s qualifying competition. Sarries are fielding a combination of youth and experience; Nils Mort captains a squad that includes the ever experienced, although sometimes unreliable, Mr Chris Ashton and Mr Michael Tagicakibau one of the extremely fast, extremely difficult to pin down Tagicakibau brothers.
This week’s 7s will be a chance to get the rugby juices flowing again, obviously we won’t be able to enjoy any front row beef, scrums or truly crunching hits however our Aviva Premiership Squads will all put on their new kits and provide us with a taster of what is to come when the full season starts on Saturday 7th September.
Allianz Park will be the venue for my 7s fix, experiencing the new purpose built stadium for the first time whilst enjoying the ‘juiciest’ of the 3 fixtures will be a great way to spend my Saturday night. All the news, pictures and highlights to follow!