Just weeks after it emerged that the RFU were scrapping their England 7s programme, rugby officials in Wales have done likewise with their World Rugby Sevens Series team. A statement issued on Friday afternoon read: “The Welsh Rugby Union can confirm that its men’s sevens programme will cease to operate in its current format for the foreseeable future due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19. 

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“The global nature of the pandemic and its financial implications, including the disruption of the World Rugby Sevens Series, has rendered the programme unsustainable in the current climate. Following a difficult start to their 2019/20 World Rugby Sevens Series campaign, Wales’ men were placed in last position when the season came to a premature end in March.

“In the past, the programme has played a key role in developing some of the country’s finest talents, including the likes of Justin Tipuric and Rhys Webb. More recently, it has seen a number of its players transition successfully to regional rugby, while also being used as a development pathway for several of Wales’ up-and-coming coaches.”

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Explaining the decision to shelve their programme, WRU performance director Ryan Jones added: “It’s an extremely regrettable situation we find ourselves in, and one that is being felt across the world inside and outside the context of sport.

“I’ve seen first-hand how much the sevens players and staff have put their heart and soul into the programme, which has made reaching this outcome all the more difficult. 

“Unfortunately, while we have seen the return of regional rugby in its current restricted form, it’s unlikely the sevens programme would be preparing for any top-level competition until at least April of next year. The realities of a reduced funding situation have made this impossible for us to sustain.” 

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Jones confirmed that the WRU were exploring opportunities surrounding the Britain sevens teams in the run-up to next year’s World Rugby Sevens Series, with the rescheduled Olympic Games in Tokyo on the horizon. 

“We are committed to competing in world-class competition and continuing player development is an absolute priority for the WRU, so we will be fully supporting our athletes with their Olympic aspirations. Having no sevens programme would be a loss to the national game. As such I don’t view this announcement as the end of rugby sevens for the Welsh Rugby Union in the long term.”

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