- Watson and Williams among those to leave England Sevens
- Find out about the programme's new faces
Following the conclusion of the HSBC Sevens World Series, Marcus Watson and Jeff Williams are returning to the 15-a-side game, signing for Aviva Premiership sides Newcastle Falcons and Bath Rugby respectively.
Watson, a former England Under 18 and Under 20 international, started his career with London Irish before switching to Saracens and then England Sevens on a full-time contract in 2012.
He appeared in 31 World Series events and in 2012/13 scored 214 points, including 27 tries. His overall total of 59 tries included four in the 2013 Dubai event, three in Las Vegas in January 2014, two against Samoa in the Cup quarter-final in Wellington the following month and two in Tokyo in April.
Williams, a dynamic and powerful player – as prop or wing in sevens, and at centre or wing in 15s – made his national team debut at the 2012 Marriott London Sevens.
He gave a hint of what was to come with an impressive solo score against Australia in the closing stages of the tournament. Williams scored the last of his 39 tries in 22 tournaments at Twickenham last month.
Others players to move on include Sam Blanchet (Bedford Blues), Christian Lewis-Pratt, Sam Stanley, Jack Walsh and Callum Wilson (Ealing Trailfinders).
Blanchet played in five World Series events, his first in Tokyo in March last year, and scored two tries against Japan in Glasgow two months later.
Lewis-Pratt reached a lofty fifth place in the list of leading scorers in the 2012/13 World Series after amassing 221 points, including 50 combined in the Glasgow and London tournaments in May 2013. His career points aggregate in the series reached 418 in 21 events.
Stanley figured in four World Series events between March and December last year. He helped England beat Scotland 36-0 on his competitive debut in Tokyo and appeared in the next tournament in Hong Kong.
The nephew of All Black legend Joe Stanley, Sam played in the Glasgow event last May and returned to the squad in Port Elizabeth for the South African leg in December. His first England Sevens experience was scoring a first-minute try in the 31-17 win over Wales in an exhibition match at Twickenham last March.
Walsh’s England Sevens debut was also in that exhibition match against Wales. Three weeks later Jack played in the first of his three World Series tournaments in Tokyo. He went on to figure in the Hong Kong and Glasgow events.
Before joining the England Sevens squad, Wilson was involved at club level for Chichester, Worthing and Esher. He played in 15-a-side on the wing but can also figure in the front row at Sevens. His World Series debut was in the Wellington tournament in February 2014. Callum represented Great Britain Students 7s at University Olympiade in Kazan, Russia last summer.
Looking ahead to the 2015/16 season a number of new players have joined the England sevens programme including James Cordy-Redden, Cameron Cowell, Richard de Carpentier, Samson Egerton, Ruaridh McConnochie, Seb Nagle-Taylor and Josh Watkins.
Twenty-one year-old Cordy-Redden from Surrey has joined the programme after playing for Cross Keys in Wales since 2013. The full back made 49 appearances for the club, scoring 13 tries.
Cameron Cowell, the London Irish Academy wing, made his debut for the senior side’s LV= Cup encounter against Leicester Tigers last October. He has represented England at U18 level.
De Carpentier has already played in eight World Series tournaments and scored four tries, his latest against Fiji in the third place play-off at the Marriott London Sevens last month. A back row forward at 15-a-side and prop in sevens, Manchester-born Richard made his debut in the Edinburgh event four years ago, played in Hong Kong and Tokyo in 2013 and this year was in the squad for the Wellington, Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Glasgow and London tournaments.
Egerton had the distinction last year of becoming the first player since 1925 to score in three consecutive Varsity matches during the time-honoured series and has won four straight for Oxford over Cambridge. Since January he made 11 appearances and scored seven tries for Yorkshire Carnegie in the Greene King IPA Championship and joins the programme which includes fellow Oxford Blue Tom Mitchell.
McConnochie, who plays centre, was part of the Great Britain Students side that won the sixth World University Sevens Championship in São José dos Campos in Brazil last August. His other representative honours include England Students and England Counties.
Nagle-Taylor has represented England Students and England Counties U20. He captained Eastbourne College at 15s and 7s as well as Middlesex U20 and Kent U20, having first played at the age of nine for Valley Fort RFC in Hong Kong.
Worcester born-and-bred, Watkins signed for the Warriors Academy in 2012 and the winger made his debut against Sale Sharks in the Amlin Challenge Cup in January 2014. The 21 year old has represented England at Under 18 and Under 19 level.
England Sevens Head Coach Simon Amor said: “Both Marcus Watson and Jeff Williams have been with the programme for a number of years. Marcus was picked up from the London Irish Academy and it is a great example of how sevens can develop a young player who has been in the academy system and push him back in at the top level so I am incredibly excited to see how he goes for Newcastle. He was outstanding towards the end of this season and has given a massive contribution to the sevens programme over the year.
“I am also delighted for Jeff. He’s done fantastically well for England Sevens. He was someone who wasn’t in an academy but someone who Ben Ryan found outside of a professional club setup. He was developed well within the sevens programme and gets an opportunity to further his career in the 15-a-side game with Premiership finalists Bath.
“I’d like to give a special mention to Christian who is a very experienced player who has performed consistently well for England and been one of the most creative players we’ve had for a number of years. He has made a massive contribution and wish him well in the future.
“The younger guys made good contributions too and developed well throughout the last year. Callum, Sam Blanchet, Sam Stanley and Jack are all guys who we picked up from National One clubs or academies and we are delighted that some of the guys have got Championship clubs so it shows how the programme is developing players and pushing them back into the 15-a-side game.”
“Richard was fantastic when he joined up with the squad for tournaments this season. We are really excited to have him as a centrally contracted player and seeing what he can bring in terms of that physicality and dynamism into the forward play. It is going to be great to see what he can do as a full-time player and I have no doubt he’ll become a real leader within this group.
“We have a lot of young guys coming through who we have brought in from the student game, National One clubs and players who have come from Premiership club academies. They will be taking their first steps in the England Sevens pathway and we are very excited to see how they go in an England Sevens shirt and how we can develop them.”