Lewis worried about rugby sevens opportunities ahead of GB merger

Lewis worried about rugby sevens opportunities ahead of GB merger

Wales winger Lloyd Lewis fears the decision to combine the three home nations to form GB men’s and women’s sevens teams could limit future opportunities next season.

Lewis was speaking after Team Wales men's sevens were beaten 38-24 by the formidable Fijians at Coventry Arena in their final Pool C game at the Commonwealth Games.

That result ended their hopes of a medal and follows the decision from England, Scotland and Wales to merge together once again to form GB for the 2023 World Sevens Series.

And Lewis remains unconvinced by the plans for the future direction of the sevens game, stressing that a GB team will mean more competition for places and less available spots.

“Obviously it’s come out in the press that it's going to GB now for next season which is a bit disappointing as a lot of the boys will miss out,” said the Newport-born flyer.

“We don’t really know what’s happening. It’s all up in the air but as a squad we’re just focusing on this, finishing the World Series in LA in August and then the World Cup in September.

“We’re all just trying to enjoy our time in the jersey while we can. We had a big break during Covid as did most of the teams, which didn’t help, and then we had to start again from January.

“We missed a few World Sevens Series tournaments as it was GB at the start of the season so it was frustrating that we had to come together late and try and find our feet quickly.

“We had a tough few tournaments on the World Series but the amount we’ve come along since then is really encouraging and it’s a shame that hard work can’t be continued next season.

“We’re a really close group, we really enjoy playing together and it’s obviously a great privilege so we’re just enjoying the opportunity to play together while we still can.”

The home nation sides previously came to gather under the GB banner in 2021 amid funding cuts in preparation for the Tokyo Olympic Games, after England players lost their central contracts in August 2020 because of the financial impact of the Covid pandemic.

Tyler Morgan has only recently joined the Wales sevens programme and echoed Lewis’ concerns about next season, saying only time will tell what sort of impact the plans will have.

“I’m not sure how the programme is going to look next year,” said Morgan.

“There will still be some sort of Wales setup but just not in the World Sevens Series and there should be a lot of boys here going to GB as we have got a decent set of players here.

“They are talented guys and very good individuals so hopefully a lot of them go on to represent GB but it’s a shame there’s only one World Sevens Series tournament left for us.

“I can’t really say what the future is going to look like, we’re going to have to wait a year or two to see how it goes. Obviously having less players playing at the top level is difficult.”

Wales later responded to their defeat to Fiji by seeing off Malaysia 33-14, setting up a much-anticipated clash with England as they look to finish as high as ninth at Birmingham 2022.

And reflecting on the Games so far, Lewis added: “We were really disappointed when we lost to Canada first game up, we really let ourselves down in that game. We really didn’t get firing at all.

“We were really embarrassed to be honest as it wasn’t a reflection of us as a team and it put us out of medal contention but apart from that we played pretty well against Zambia.

“And although we lost against Fiji, they are the best team in the world and there were glimpses in there to show what we can do and we can take a lot of confidence from that.”

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