Wales Sevens have again called upon George Gasson and Joe Goodchild for this month’s World Rugby Sevens Series tournaments in Hong Kong (5th-7th) and Singapore (13th-14th).
Coach Richard Fussell who played over 80 games for the Men of Gwent will assist head coach Richie Pugh over the next two legs of the Sevens circuit.
Pugh says: “We’re looking to build on our performances in Vancouver, and the intensity in training has been decent. It’s still tough to replicate World Series levels on the training field, but the boys have pushed each other hard and produced a strong level of competition within the squad.”
Vancouver saw a resurgent Wales make it to the Challenge Trophy Semi-Finals, where they went out to Australia in a high-scoring affair. “Our players have more confidence to play now, and that comes with an understanding of game. Now we’re looking to build on basic things, and when we have the opportunity to attack we have to make sure we finish strongly rather than get turnovers, which are lethal in sevens.”
Pugh wants his players to be excited about Hong Kong, one of the most iconic events in world sport, where the atmosphere regularly reaches fever pitch. “You can feed off the crowd, which the team did in Vancouver where the fans were excellent. Hong Kong has a good history, it’s one of the originals and the best, and once again the boys will be exposed to an environment that they can’t get back home week to week.”
It will be a case of friends reunited in Hong Kong, with a large number of Welsh ex-pats residing there – not to mention three men involved in Wales’ 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens victory (which recently celebrated its tenth anniversary). “We’ve got a hit out with Paul John’s Hong Kong team this Tuesday, who are also coached by Jevon Groves, and there’s a Welsh Society dinner organised by Tom Isaacs.
“There are so many guys out there who have been involved with the WRU, including Dai Rees, Leigh Jones and [former Wales U20 analyst] Marc Carter, that it’s become a kind of home away from home for us. There are loads of things going on which makes for a good week.”
A relative newcomer to the circuit, Singapore’s National Stadium has produced some interesting results in the recent past. “There have been a few different winners over the years,” says Pugh. “Teams are coming in at the latter end of the season with battered, bruised bodies, so you want to go in a little more fresh – and over the years we’ve always done better in the second week. However, we want to make sure we start well in Hong Kong.”
Wales Sevens squad: Luke Treharne (c), Owen Jenkins, Cai Devine, Afon Bagshaw, Ben Roach (all core players) Cardiff Blues: Dafydd Smith, Cameron Lewis Dragons: Joe Goodchild, George Gasson Ospreys: Ben Cambriani, Reuben Morgan-Williams Scarlets: Tomi Lewis, Tom Rogers.
Wales’ Hong Kong fixtures: England v Wales (11:31 GMT, Friday), USA v Wales (05:25, Saturday). Wales v Spain (08:44, Saturday).