Source: Travis Prior for World Rugby

GB Sevens – The Latest

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It’s five months since we last had news about the Great Britain 7s squad. Now we have an announcement about its latest structures.

It leaves several issues in the air.

Even the statement in the title must be taken with a pinch of salt. The men’s core squad is there in force, all sixteen of them.

But strange to relate, the women’s squad amounts to a mere nine*. Even stranger, we are informed that more ‘confirmation’ will be forthcoming once the RWC in New Zealand is completed. Well, we can easily imagine Jaz Joyce jumping at the chance of rejoining her 7s pals; they would be much the poorer without her. But who else?

Maybe the Scots, who would like to forget the tribulations they suffered in Auckland as soon as possible.

But the English? Simon Middleton stated long ago that players had to commit to one format to the exclusion of the other. Meg Jones was the most notable example of a player opting for 7s, where she has been co-captain with Abbie Brown of the English and the combined GB sides.

But a host of others opted to 15s. Of the current Red Roses squad in New Zealand Alex Matthews, Helena Rowland, Ellie Kildunne, Emily Scarratt, Holly Aitchison, Jess Breach, Leanne Infante, Lydia Thompson, Sarah McKenna and (briefly) Tatyana Heard have all played in the England 7s squad, either recently or in the more distant past.

Will the same barrier continue in place post-RWC?

For the Malaga tournament last January this GB squad was chosen:

Maisy Allen, Ellie Boatman, Abbie Brown, Abi Burton, Alicia Maude, Isla Norman Bell, Jodie Ounsley, Jade Shekels, Georgina Tasker, Lauren Torley, Emma Uren, Jessica Weaver and Amy Wilson Hardy. Allen and Weaver debuted; Shekels and Torley were making their second appearance.

Many of those names are missing from the nine listed below.


I have mentioned before ( the remarkable turnover in coaching staff for the two 7s squads. Now a completely different set of coaches has been installed, with the same intricate and lop-sided structures as before.

Ciaran Beattie takes charge of the men’s and women’s squads, but will double as the men’s assistant coach. Nick Wakley becomes the new women’s head coach. So who has the ultimate authority for deciding matters: the head coach or the head head coach who has half an eye on the men’s programme? How can you be the head coach and the assistant coach at the same time?

Of Scott Forrest, Beattie’s predecessor, not a sign. It would be fascinating too to know what has happened to other coaches previously in place. Charlie Hayter was England’s head coach in 2019, replaced later by James Rodwell.

Robbie Fergusson becomes a second coach to help superintend both the men’s and women’s squads. His brief is to look after ‘technical skill areas’. Beattie, Wakley and the assistant coach (see below) presumably won’t have the time to look after all these unnamed skills themselves.

And they still haven’t got round to appointing that assistant coach. What has been happening through the long hot summer that prevented these decisions being finalised by now?

Once more, the whole business seems so last-minute. The Dubai 7s take place in early December. That is barely five weeks away, and final additions to the squad won’t apparently be confirmed till after 12 November, when the RWC ends.

*The Core Nine

Ellie Boatman, Abbie Brown, Heather Cowell, Megan Jones, Alicia Maude, Isla Norman Bell, Celia Quansah, Jade Shekels and Emma Uren.