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RFU reverses course: decides to back Sevens

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RFU reverses course: decides to back Sevens Empty RFU reverses course: decides to back Sevens

Post by Rugby Fan Sat 18 Sep 2021 - 13:30

Sevens is still a sideshow in the sport, so this news will largely go unremarked. However, there does appear to be an attempt by the RFU to try and reintegrate Sevens as a legitimate development pathway. Telegraph reports this from Conor O'Shea:

RFU director of performance Conor O’Shea explains that when he took up his role in late 2019, the aim had always been to radically overhaul the sevens programmes after the 2020 Olympics and along with Charlie Hayter, who acted as Team GB Rugby Sevens team leader and assistant coach, is masterminding an approach in England which will see the format come more closely aligned with XVs – using the short form of the game as a development tool.

O’Shea and Hayter see this as the purpose for sevens going forward with specialists or “glue” players holding the squad together. “When I first came in we decided we would align to the pathway again, so there is an ability to develop players not just to be competitive in sevens but to come through and play XVs,” said O’Shea.

“What you don’t want is a group of players, and I am not only talking about England but teams worldwide, who are like the Harlem Globetrotters who play event after event and it is its own little carnival that goes around. Sevens needs to be aligned and that is what I think everyone is working towards.

“There are plenty of examples of the transfer from sevens to XVs and people look at Ruaridh McConnochie going to the last World Cup, you look at Will Muir’s transition from sevens to XVs at Bath but that is by accident rather than design, rather than it being a targeted development period for a player.”

O'Shea is right that any transfer of skills so far has largely been an accident. However, the selection of Ruaridh McConnochie was almost certainly a result of his sevens experience. While he was in a good vein of form, Jones undoubtedly placed a lot of weight on the fact McConnochie was more used to touring than most players, and had a lot of experience in Asia, including Japan.

However, the RFU can't establish transferability on its own. If sevens players are going to feature in XVs, and vice versa, then there needs to be a deal with the Premiership clubs on access.

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