The RFU, SRU and WRU can confirm they have secured funding to field GB Sevens teams for the 2021 season ahead of the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The deal has been made possible by an innovative commercial partnership with The National Lottery.
The men’s and women’s GB Sevens teams will compete in the HSBC World Sevens Series in the build-up to next summer’s Olympic Games and then will continue for the climax of the 2021 season post-Tokyo.
The partnership means the GB Sevens teams have the perfect opportunity to build towards striking gold in the delayed Olympic Games. As part of the partnership, The National Lottery will be acknowledged in a variety of ways and National Lottery players will benefit from tickets to events and unique opportunities with the GB Sevens teams.
Charlie Hayter will take the Team Leader role whilst also being an assistant coach across both men’s and women’s programmes. Scott Forrest remains head coach for the women’s side, having been in lead roles with Scotland Women’s 7s since 2012.
Tony Roques will join as head coach for the men. Roques brings with him a wealth of knowledge having most recently been an assistant coach with the USA Eagles 7s side and prior to that as assistant coach to the England Sevens team.
James Rodwell, the most capped rugby sevens player of all time and part of the England coaching team since 2018, will complete the coaching set up, assisting across both the men’s and women’s programmes.
Further details on the performance-based programme will be announced in due course.
RFU Performance Director Conor O’Shea said: “We’re delighted to have secured this partnership with The National Lottery and thank National Lottery players. This is a great opportunity for GB Sevens and vital preparation ahead of next summer’s Olympic Games. We’re very grateful to the individual unions and their partners for their co-operation, understanding and continued support. We know the current uncertain circumstances mean there will likely be challenges along the way but we’re very much looking forward to developing our plans further.”
Scottish Rugby Director of Rugby Jim Mallinder said: “The opportunity for our players to be able to put their hands up for potential Olympic selection is something we very much welcome, as part of a GB Sevens squad. It is our intention that beyond this season, both of our Scotland 7s programmes, remain unaffected by this development and very much look forward to qualifying for and sending our strongest squads to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022.”
WRU Operations Director and Team GB Board Director Julie Paterson said: “This is a great example of the Home Unions coming together for the betterment of the game. A lot of hard work has been put in to make this possible, and the level of collaboration from the three unions and our commercial partners has been excellent. The initiative will no doubt provide Team GB with the best chance of success in Tokyo and on the World Series.”
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “I am delighted to see The National Lottery come forward with such an innovative partnership which will not only support Rugby Sevens as a sport, but also give back to society.”
Nigel Railton, Chief Executive of National Lottery operator Camelot said: “Every day The National Lottery and its players make a huge difference to communities across the UK – and have been doing so since 1994. This clever partnership demonstrates how by working together we can have a real impact on a sport and boost the chances of gold in Tokyo next summer. The loss of spectators and cancellation of events has had such an impact on various sports I am proud that we are able to support the GB Sevens programme after a difficult year.”
Hayter said: “I’m delighted with the coaching team that we have in place, which has an exciting blend of skills, experience and personalities. Scott and Tony as the GB Sevens programme head coaches bring dynamism, passion and a wealth of experience to their respective roles. The opportunity we have to inspire Great Britain with rugby 7s on the global stage is one we all look forward to being a part of.”
The money for these initiatives is coming from a National Lottery promotional fund. It is not being funded by money allocated for National Lottery Good Causes or by Camelot.
Courtesy of the RFU