As Samurai’s European season comes to a close…
The fourth and final leg of the UK Super Sevens Series elite competition will mark the end of Samurai Rugby’s busiest ever sevens season in Europe. Our Men’s team will have played in 9 tournaments over ten weekends, including Hong Kong, St. Petersburg, Amsterdam, Portugal and even beyond the wall in the North (Scotland). Our Women’s team will have played in four tournaments over seven weeks. 2019 has been our most intense year since the founding of the club in 1996. After this weekend, our focus will move on to Africa.
At the start of the season the club made a conscious choice to prioritise player development, re-introduction of the Samurai Women’s team and performance in overseas tournaments as our main goals for 2019. With Samurai Women already guaranteed the UK Super Sevens Series championship title, two of our under 18 players winning England 7s contracts (with two more getting close), having fielded 20 players under the age of 20 so far, and a Win, a Final and Semi Final performances internationally, we feel we are certainly on track to achieving our goals.
With the final leg of the UK SSS this weekend but with a bit of ground to make up on the series leaders, our Men will be pushing for a top three finish. Our Women can finish last this weekend and still take the series title.
The four tournament 2019 UK Series has been more competitive ever with 5 new teams competing and several other teams really progressing. The standard of games played in both the Men’s and Women’s games has been a joy to watch.
We have used the 2019 UK Series as the primary vehicle for achieving our player development goals. Our selection policy has been consistent in mixing young inexperienced players with two or three very experienced (sevens) players. In doing this Samurai has returned to the model used by the St George Samurai team created by Mike Friday and myself in 2006. This model proved very successful in developing players such as Ben Foden, Topsy Ojo, Chris Cracknell, Lee Dixon and Rob Vickerman, amongst others, who all went on to represent their country. We are giving serious consideration to repeating this policy in the 2020 season.
But for now, all eyes are on the final SSS leg at Ealing Trailfinders this weekend. There is a distinct St George Samurai feel to the Men’s team, with USA Sevens Head Coach Mike Friday at the helm, and five under 20 players in the squad. We will need a bit of luck in other pools to be in with a shot of winning the series, but the beauty of sport is that anything is possible!
Thank you to all our supporters, sponsors, players, coaches and volunteers for making it all possible.
Founder and Director of Rugby, Samurai Rugby