After having had the pleasure of talking to manager of the New York City Sevens (who will participate in the inaugural World Club 7s this weekend), Bret Costain, the future looks bright for rugby in the USA. I was able to catch Bret mid training session to speak about the weekend’s prospects as well the promising development of some of young and exciting talent arising across the Atlantic.
Kindly accommodated by Harrow School, the freshly assembled New York Sevens were putting some finishing touches to their preparations as well as getting to grips with the untimely change to scrum rules. As Bret wisely stated, “although the scrum isn’t as important in 7s, we don’t want to give away silly penalties”.
Bret comes largely from a 7s background and is currently president of the Village Lions, who are based in New York. He feels 7s is more accessible and appealing to a wider audience as it doesn’t have the same level of technicality you find in 15-a-side. The growing global representation from easily implemented tournaments, such as the one this weekend, provides, as Bret described, “a much easier starting point for someone interested in rugby”. The pace and dynamic nature of a 7s tournament is understandably more appealing and in some ways, easier to watch for those new to the sport.
Bret and his team are relishing the prospect of this weekend. “This is such a great opportunity to show just what we can do on the famous Twickenham field.” Although the players are relatively new to each other, having only been together for three months, this team are not new to the game. With a wide pool of athletes to choose from, in such a vast population, it has been important to narrow down the elite that will represent USA in skill and ambition this weekend. With qualification for Rio 2016 on the horizon this opportunity to shine on such a big stage couldn’t come at a more important time.
“The Olympic perception in the USA is important to the growth of the sport and opportunities such as this will certainly help toward getting the sponsors on board,” explained Bret. “This will encourage a focus on higher performance and help improve facilities.”
Bret holds high hopes for this weekend as his young squad takes on the likes of Northampton and ACT Brumbies. “We have a strong team and anything can happen in 7s,” he said. And with over 200 Sevens tournaments in the USA there is no wonder this array of talent is on the up. They will be hoping to emulate the USA’s recent successes, triumphing over the likes of South Africa in the Plate competition at the London leg of the World 7s Series.
The New York Sevens team will enjoy a welcome party at the Harlequins training ground before the weekends’ action gets unde way. There was palpable excitement as Bret explained his gratitude towards the schools and clubs that have made the NY Sevens journey so profitable and enjoyable.
By Jono Frank
Rhino Rugby is the official kit and equipment supplier to the NYC Club 7’s team: www.rhinorugby.com