Preview: New format for the return of the exciting Premiership Sevens Series hosted at Franklins Gardens

Preview: New format for the return of the exciting Premiership Sevens Series hosted at Franklins Gardens

The Singha Premiership Rugby 7s returns this summer for its eighth instalment, as all 12 sides from next season’s top flight convene at Franklin's Gardens on Friday 28 and Saturday 29 July, to contest the shortened format.

For the first time since its inception, the tournament will follow the same blueprint as seen in the Olympics and HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, and be contested over two days.

  • When? 28th & 29th July
  • Where? Franklin's Gardens
  • Kick off? Friday (6pm), Saturday (3pm)

The teams will be split into four pools of three and play each other once, with the tournament then progressing into Cup, Plate and Bowl competitions on day two.

Wasps start the defence of their title in the first match of the tournament on Friday night, when they take on winners in 2011, Newcastle Falcons.

Elsewhere, Harlequins kick-off their campaign against Gloucester, Sale Sharks meet Worcester Warriors and Exeter Chiefs clash with the weekend’s hosts Northampton Saints.

Pools

A - Wasps, Newcastle Falcons, Leicester Tigers

B - Harlequins, Gloucester, London Irish

C - Sale Sharks, Worcester Warriors, Bath

D - Exeter Chiefs, Northampton Saints, Saracens

Bath buoyed by Williams

Bath, who have hosted three of the last seven Singha 7s tournaments are yet to win a title, but won’t be lacking sevens experience on the weekend as former England Sevens player, Jeff Williams, takes charge of the West Country men.

“I have some coaching experience but it’s definitely my first time working with elite players with this level of quality, which is very exciting,” he said.

Williams scored 39 tries in 22 appearances for England during his three seasons on the world circuit, and is looking forward to showcasing some of Bath’s young talent.

“It’s going to be a simple plan - nothing too technical - and I’ll allow the players to express themselves. It’ll give people who we’ll potentially see later in the season with A League an opportunity.”

Former Singha 7s winners

  • 2010 - Saracens
  • 2011 - Newcastle Falcons
  • 2012 - London Irish
  • 2013 - Gloucester
  • 2014 - Gloucester
  • 2015 - Newport Gwent Dragons
  • 2016 - Wasps

The comeback kids

London Irish are back in the top flight of English rugby after a season in the Greene King IPA Championship, and get a first taste of renewing old rivalries on the weekend. The Exiles won this tournament back in 2012 and have fielded a young team to help them repeat that feat this weekend, as England U20 scrum half Rory Brand leads the side. Joining him are two members of England's U18 outfit, in Ollie Hassell-Collins and Josh Basham, who are both set to tour South Africa with England in August

Both Ollie and Josh came through the UR7s Academy program

Who's saying what?

  • Stephen Myler (Saints): “It's going to be exciting; sevens encourages that sort of rugby and it has more freewill about it which everyone wants.”
  • Ross Chisholm (Quins): “It’s an event you want to win, but at the same time, you see some great careers start at the tournament.”
  • Gordon Ross (Worcester): “Peter Stringer is really keen to play. He’s been banging on my door to try and get a game...”
  • Tom Whiteley (Saracens): “We have a close team this year, before it hasn’t always clicked but hopefully we can this time.”

Stories to look out for...

Newcastle Falcons | Former England Sevens squad member Cameron Cowell will captain his new club over the weekend. The 22-year-old helped England to a runners-up spot in the Dubai leg of the World Series in 2015, and scored 109 points in his first nine tournaments.

Wasps | England capped Christian Wade lends his speed to a squad featuring Dan Robson and Olympic silver medallist Marcus Watson. Wasps have a chance of winning back-to-back titles, a feat only achieved by Gloucester.

Gloucester | England U20 Grand Slam-winning scrum half Harry Randall will feature for the Cherry & Whites at the Singha 7s, alongside England U18 duo Tom Seabrook and Aaron Hinkley.

Worcester Warriors | The Warriors boast two players who've represented England Sevens on the HSBC World Rugby Seven Series. Max Stelling, who will captain the side, and Matt Cox.

Sale Sharks | Another member of the England U20 roster, Paolo Odogwu, will also play at Franklin's Gardens. He was the competition's top try-scorer last year, crossing 10 times in just five matches.

Harlequins | England U20 stars Gabriel Ibitoye and Dino Lamb will be running out for Quins as they go in search of their first title.

Northampton Saints | Ollie Sleightholme, son of former England international Jon, will feature for the Saints, having helped England win a silver medal at the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas last week.

Day One fixtures

  • 18:00 - Wasps v Newcastle Falcons
  • 18:22 - Harlequins v Gloucester
  • 18:44 - Sale Sharks v Worcester Warriors
  • 19:06 - Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints
  • 19:28 - Wasps v Leicester Tigers
  • 19:50 - Harlequins v London Irish
  • 20:12 - Sale Sharks v Bath
  • 20:34 - Exeter Chiefs v Saracens
  • 20:56 - Newcastle Falcons v Leicester Tigers
  • 21:18 - Gloucester v London Irish
  • 21:40 - Worcester Warriors v Bath
  • 22:02 - Northampton Saints v Saracens