They may have successfully kickstarted their 24/Sevens title defence, but Seventy7s are taking nothing for granted as they target a place in this year’s national final at Bath’s Recreation Ground.
Seventy7s is a Wandsworth-based rugby sevens side with its origins coming from the 77 bus route which a number of players used to take while students at Emanuel School.
Last year they swept all before them to be crowned champions of England Rugby’s new 24/Sevens competition, a community sevens series which sees the country’s best amateur teams competing across qualifying events followed by four regional competitions.
The competition is back again this year with the first set of qualifiers taking place earlier this month, including the Graham Robinson Memorial 7s which featured Harry Whiteley’s Seventy7s side.
Living up to their billing as reigning champions, the Seventy7s went unbeaten throughout the tournament to book their place at the South East Regional Play-Off on July 8.
Success there would see them through to national final in Bath on July 29 with captain Whiteley openly admitting a return trip to the final was high on the agenda.
“This year the final is at the Rec and we are working really hard to get there,” he said. “We would love to be there. But first we have to get through the regionals and that will be tough in itself.
We had a really good tournament at the qualifiers, the standard was really good.
“We were given a good test by the other teams. The scoreline in the final against the Tornados was 31-7 but it was a lot closer than it looks.
“The Graham Robinson Memorial is a great little tournament. It’s where the team started about six or seven years ago so it’s always nice to go back.
“The tournament has been getting bigger and better, especially since the RFU got on board and made it part of the 24/Sevens competition.
“It’s a real highlight of the sevens season for us and a great way to start the summer.”
Following on from the success of last year’s 24/Sevens, the competition this year features three different tiers – elite, open and social.
There are 38 different qualifiers taking place from April through to June before four regional play-offs and the final in July where a bumper crowd is expected in Bath.
Sevens rugby is a key part of England Rugby’s work with Sport England, broadening high quality playing opportunities for all players – with Whiteley a big fan of the 24/Sevens competition.
“Winning the 24/Sevens tournament last year was the highlight of my sevens career,” he added.
“It was a tournament we really took on as one that we wanted to win.
“Anything associated with the RFU has a certain prestige to it. And it was incredible to come out on top.
“There is a certain pressure as reigning champions but we just enjoy playing together. It’s mostly former school friends and their siblings but there also other people who make up the team too.”
England Rugby 24/Sevens, an exciting grassroots sevens competition.
The competition is open for all clubs and players, new and existing to enter, with local qualifiers taking place in 38 locations nationwide this summer.
Visit www.englandrugby.com/24sevens to get involved.