Englishman Mike Friday and Scotland’s Clark Laidlaw are backing reported moves to field a Great Britain squad in future HSBC World Sevens Series tournaments.
Friday, the USA coach, and New Zealand coach Laidlaw were asked during a press conference for the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens press conference on Wednesday how they would feel about a Great Britain side replacing the trio of England, Scotland and Wales. And both coaches supported the idea.
“I’d love to see a Great Britain team playing in series,” said Friday, a former England sevens coach who has performed miracles with the series-leading USA Eagles. “I think it would be brilliant, I think it would only add to the competition that already exists in the series. Whether that means we stay at 16 teams and go to 12 maybe, anyone can beat anybody in any given Sunday anyway in the world series.
“We’ve seen that this season. In their own right, [England, Scotland and Wales] are great rugby teams but put them together the will become an even stronger rugby team.”
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) March 22, 2019
Earlier this year, reports out of England suggested that Simon Armor’s team may be disbanded, along with Scotland and Wales, and instead a Great Britain team would take their place in the series.
Great Britain made their sevens debut at the 2016 Olympics in Rio and reached the final before losing to Fiji. Bringing together the likes of England speedster Dan Norton with top Scottish and Welsh players would create a squad who would likely challenge USA, Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa for honours.
England are fifth in the 2018/19 world series, Scotland are ninth and Wales 13th.
“From a competition standpoint it will only add to the whole drama of the event,” added Friday. “Instead of looking at it as losing England, Scotland and Wales, look … this whole world series is evolving, it is pioneering, it is leading from the front and we need to continue to evolve as a product, as a rugby event and I think that would only add to that evolution and make it even more exciting.”
Laidlaw, who also played sevens for Scotland, said a Great Britain team would raise the value of the world series and enhance their Olympic medal hopes.
“If you look at those three teams, it is mixed how well they support their programmes,” said Laidlaw. “If you can get a genuine Great Britain side, fully supported, centralised in Manchester or somewhere, it would be great for the series.
“It’s an opportunity to really expand and grow that way. Sevens is part of the Olympics with a Great Britain team and that’s a natural progression.”