The pinnacle of the domestic sevens series happens this weekend as the Middlesex Sevens is held at Twickenham. This comes hot on the heels of the success of the J.P.Morgan Asset Management Premiership sevens, but is an altogether different tournament. Alex Harking explains…
The Middlesex Sevens has a proud and distinguished history and some of the very greats from Rugby Union and League have graced the competition. In the amateur era and the early days of professionalism it was an event that brought the curtain down on the season, now it is part of a club’s pre-season build up. This saw changes on the pitch but in the stands it has remained, like many sevens tournaments, an event with a party atmosphere.
It has seen some difficult days in recent years as it has struggled to find its place on the rugby calendar, with the pattern of teams regularly changing. That is the same this year with a number of international teams taking part and sevens sides like the Wailers, Marauders and the British Army also taking part. However, I think this year’s tournament will be the best for a number of years.
I expect the quality of the rugby to be far higher than recent tournaments, the Premiership squads will have played some sevens recently and this will complement the experience of the international and invitational sides. In addition the Premiership teams that are there are there their own choice and not because they are contractually obliged to be. There is also a sense of optimism surrounding Sevens as a result of its inclusion in the Olympics, interest is high and this should transfer to Saturday’s tournament.
The favorite for Saturday’s tournament has to come from one of the international sides, with Kenya getting my vote. There could also be a strong challenge from the Premiership sides with the Falcons my dark horse having missed out last week at the Rec. Regardless of the scores it should be a great day and let’s hope the weather holds out!