England’s RFU ponders scrapping rugby sevens team

By Nazvi Careem

England’s future in the HSBC World Sevens Series may be in jeopardy as the country’s governing body struggling with finances.

Reports in British media earlier in the week said England’s Rugby Football Union is forced to make savings of up to US$13 million and disbanding its sevens team is seen as one of the options.

It has been suggested that, instead of England, a Great Britain team could take part in the the series.

“We have communicated very clearly over many months that we need to make some savings in the next financial year,” an RFU spokesperson was quoted as saying. “We are consulting with the game on this. Creating a Team GB Sevens model has long been our preferred approach, given that sevens is an Olympic sport.”

England have regularly been among the top five teams in the 10-venue circuit but the Great Britain team reached the final of the 2016 Rio Olympics, losing to Fiji. It is expected that the Great Britain team for the Tokyo Olympics would be a de facto England side in any case.

England, coached by Simon Amor, were runners-up in the 2016-17 season and lost in the final of last year’s World Cup in San Francisco. Dan Norton, England’s speedster, has also scored more tries than anyone else in the series with 320.

Media reports say there are 20 players contracted to the men’s sevens team with salaries reported to be between US$33,000 and US118,000.

Changes to the sevens set-up in England would affect the men’s and women’s teams.

“We have been very clear for some time that we need to cut costs in 2019-2020 as our revenues have not risen in line with our original forecasts,” the spokesperson added. “There are a broad range of options under discussion across the professional game, the community game, and our general overheads.

“Any budget cuts in 2019-2020 come after years of record investment in the professional and community game.”

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