UR7s can exclusively reveal that two of the most illustrious Invitational 7s sides on the elite circuit, Samurai International and the White Hart Marauders, will both be participating in this year’s Middlesex Sevens. It’s a major coup for both organisations, with Rugby’s hierarchy recognising the benefits that these type of teams can bring to the game.
UR7s can exclusively reveal that two of the most illustrious Invitational 7s sides on the elite circuit, Samurai International and the White Hart Marauders, will both be participating in this year’s Middlesex Sevens.
It’s a major coup for both organisations, with Rugby’s hierarchy recognising the benefits that these type of teams can bring to the game.
It’s Samurai’s first appearance at Twickenham since 2000 when they were invited to the tournament after a late drop out. Although the 2000 tournament was won by the Penguins, who included the likes of Serevi, Rush, Satala and Delasau, Samurai caused a stir by beating some established names such as Wasps. Mike Friday, who was part of that Wasps side, is now Samurai’s Chairman and will be in charge of the side for Twickenham.
"It’s wonderful news for Samurai to be part of a tournament with such a long-standing history and a testament to Terry Sands and ULR. It’s going to be great to be part of the party environment which has become a real nurturing ground for players," said Friday who is also the former England Sevens coach.
Friday revealed to UR7s that he is hoping to reunite some members of England Sevens' glory years of 2004-6, with the likes of Ben Gollings and Simon Amor at the helm. With Samurai always putting an emphasis on mixing old and new, youngsters such as Dan Caprice are also being linked with the side.
Friday has also hinted on the possibility of Kenyan stars Collins Injera and Humphrey Kayange being added to the squad. The tournament would provide the perfect shop window for the African stars in their bid to get signed by a Premiership club.
"To have that fulcrum of Gollings and Amor as well as other members of that highly successful England team from a couple of years ago is very exciting. Having a sprinkling of young and old talent with some overseas players should make us competitive," added Friday.
Friday also thinks the addition of two invitational sides again shows the regard in which the sport is now being taken by Rugby’s hierarchy.
"These sides are great for developing young players, giving them the necessary challenges they will face in their rugby lives and being in that environment can develop them personally too. The skills they learn on the 7s circuit could be invaluable to them in the future."
Marauders ready for Twickenham
The White Hart Marauders, another world famous name on the elite circuit, are also relishing the opportunity of turning out at Twickenham.
"We are all delighted to have received the invitation. After a whirlwind start to our season where we set out to play in 14 tournaments, and started by winning in Kinsale, we have hardly had a chance to take breath, but this gives us a great opportunity to focus on another major tournament where we can compete at the highest level," said Chairman Bill White.
Howard Graham, who has enjoyed much success with the Army at Twickenham, will again be leading the side and will look to assemble the strongest squad possible. The Marauders have included the likes of Craig Hill and Ifan Evans, both World Cup Sevens winners with Wales, in recent weeks and will need to recruit well to compete in what is set to be one of the most competitive Middlesex Sevens in recent years.
"We have worked hard for the recognition of being invited to the Middlesex 7s, especially Barrie Torbett and Howard Graham whose dedication over the last few years has taken us to a new level of performance," added White.
White is also in agreement with Friday about the rising standards of the Invitational game.
"We were only discussing the Middlesex Sevens at our committee meeting last week and were also talking about how the circuit is changing with a small number of specialist teams achieving constant high standards, like the Marauders and Samurai.
"At the same time a small number of tournaments are rising to the surface, and starting to focus more on ensuring that they get these specialist teams to their events. This will make for an interesting season next year as the both the circuit and the standard of play develops to higher levels."
It's a wonderful opportunity for the best of the Invitational 7s circuit to pit themselves against what many consider the ruling classes of rugby; the Guinness Premiership. Knowing Terry Sands and Howard Graham, these sides that can be seen on the Rugby fields of Manchester, Newquay and Bury St. Edmunds will be making an impact on the turf of HQ at Twickenham on August 15th.
Confirmed Teams competing at the Middlesex 7s 2009 - Leicester Tigers, Northampton Saints, London Wasps, Newcastle Falcons, Saracens, London Irish, Bath Rugby, Worcester Warriors, Gloucester RFC, Harlequins, Sale Sharks, Leeds Tykes, British Army, Help for Heroes 7, Samurai International & The White Hart Marauders