Falcons flyer joins 25 man training squad for Rio Olympics
Newcastle Falcons Marcus Watson has been announced in the GB Sevens men’s wider training squad for the Rio Olympics which includes a combination of sevens specialists and 15-a-side players from England, Scotland and Wales.
The 25 players will gather on 30 May for a seven-week intensive training period involving a programme of four international competitions.
Watson, who moved from the Sevens circuit to join Newcastle last summer, will be joined in the squad by Scotland’s Mark Robertson and Scott Riddell, with both players involved in last summer’s Premiership Rugby 7s series for the club.
With sevens included in the Olympics for the first time, this group have a unique and exciting opportunity to compete for the 12 places in Team GB which will be announced together with the women’s squad on 19 July.
Team GB Sevens Head Coach Simon Amor said: “We have watched a significant amount of footage throughout the season of 15-a-side players and every sevens game from England, Scotland and Wales. Exciting talent was available to us and competition for places was tough. We’re now really looking forward to bringing this group together as one team and creating an incredible Great Britain spirit.
“One of the main strengths of the players who have been named today is their aggressive style of play in both attack and defence. Looking at how the games are won at the top level at the moment, it is very much about that physicality, teams who are fearless in the way they play.
“For the 15s players aiming to make that transition, recent sevens experience at the top level was important given how much the world of sevens rugby has progressed in the last three to four years. We were also targeting players in certain key positions to add strength in depth and complement the qualities of the specialists we already have.”
“Throughout the season I have been in constant communication with Gareth Williams [Team GB Sevens Assistant Coach and Wales Sevens Head Coach] and Calum MacRae [Scotland Sevens Head Coach] and spent time with both teams in Singapore,” added Amor. “That experience was crucial in being able to select this squad. We have some very strong characters from all three countries and players who have shone in big games which is really important for us going into Rio. I know this group have an incredible work ethic and attitude.”
As part of Olympic preparations, two GB sevens squads will compete in four tournaments including the Rugby Europe Sevens Series in Moscow (4-5 June), Exeter (9-10 July) and Gdynia (16-17 July) as well as Sevens and the City at Allianz Park (2 July).
“It has been a demanding World Series for all teams but we have rested senior players at various points in the season,” said Amor. “This has had an impact on the results of England Sevens but has ensured we now have a squad which is fit to peak over the coming months. The priority last year was to ensure a top four finish and Olympic qualification, this year the aim was to ensure players were ready, come the end of the series, to give GB Sevens their all.”
GB Sevens Men: Cory Allen (Cardiff Blues) Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors) Dan Bibby (England Sevens) Tom Bowen (England Sevens) Phil Burgess (England Sevens) Sam Cross (Wales Sevens) James Davies (Scarlets) Alex Davis (England Sevens) Richard de Carpentier (England Sevens) Jamie Farndale (Scotland Sevens) Alex Gray (England Sevens) Charlie Hayter (England Sevens) Warwick Lahmert (England Sevens) Ollie Lindsay-Hague (Harlequins) Gavin Lowe (Scotland Sevens) Ruaridh McConnochie (England Sevens) Tom Mitchell (England Sevens) Luke Morgan (Wales Sevens) Dan Norton (England Sevens) Scott Riddell (Scotland Sevens) Mark Robertson (Scotland Sevens) James Rodwell (England Sevens) Joe Simpson (Wasps) Luke Treharne (Wales Sevens) Marcus Watson (Newcastle Falcons)