The British Olympic Association has unveiled the 24 men and women who will represent Great Britain in sevens at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
This will be the first time in 108 years that Great Britain will be represented in rugby on the Olympic stage with Emily Scarratt captaining the women’s team and Tom Mitchell (pictured) the men’s team.
"The crowd were chanting ‘GB’, something that has never been heard in the rugby sevens world before, and it was yet another reminder of how privileged we are to now be part of one Team GB and the largest sporting event in the world."
The women’s squad, which will face Canada, hosts Brazil and Japan at the Deodoro Stadium from 6-8 August, includes a number of Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 winners and plenty of experience from the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series in 2015-16.
Jasmine Joyce is the only non-English player in the squad, the Welsh player one of a handful of Scottish and Welsh players who have been training with the England squad since October and playing in invitational tournaments over the last nine months.
Hugely exciting moment
Their male counterparts will also face Japan as well as HSBC Paris Sevens winners Kenya and third seeds New Zealand in Pool C from 9-11 August with the players from Scotland, England and Wales only coming together as a group in late May for a six-week intensive training camp.
They have played as two teams, GB Royals and GB Lions, on the Rugby Europe Grand Prix Sevens Series in that period with coach Simon Amor then having to pick the final 12 from a group containing both sevens specialists and 15s players.
Mitchell is joined in the squad by Dan Norton, the fourth-highest try scorer in series history, and James Rodwell, who set a new record of 69 consecutive series events earlier this year, while World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year 2015 nominee Mark Bennett is one of the 15s players.
One player unlucky to only see his name on the travelling reserves list is Wales captain Luke Treharne, who led the GB Royals to back-to-back Rugby Europe titles in Exeter and Gydnia this month and was a standout player in both tournaments.
“This is a hugely exciting moment for women’s rugby with sevens making its debut at the Olympic Games and we believe we have selected the best possible group of players to achieve success in Rio,” said women’s coach Simon Middleton.
“The world series this season proved how competitive the women’s rugby sevens circuit is and we’re very much looking forward to competing against the very best as a Team GB squad.”
A childhood dream
Men’s coach Simon Amor added: “At the recent tournament in Exeter, the crowd were chanting ‘GB’, something that has never been heard in the rugby sevens world before, and it was yet another reminder of how privileged we are to now be part of one Team GB and the largest sporting event in the world.
“Through the extraordinary GB spirit that has been created over the last seven weeks, all the players involved in the wider training squad have pushed themselves, and each other, to the limit. They have fought and fought for places each day. It has been incredibly competitive and the group has become very close in a short space of time.
“We have named a talented and experienced squad of 12 players today which we believe offers the right combinations and complementing skill sets needed to be successful in Rio. It has, however, been a 27-player effort and recognition must go to every player involved in the programme, as well as the hard-working and exceptional management team.”
Scarratt added: “To wear the GB shirt and compete in the Olympics is a childhood dream that we are now, as a team, turning into reality. As a squad, we are looking forward to being among the first athletes to play rugby sevens on the world’s biggest sporting stage. I am immensely proud to be representing Great Britain and introducing women’s rugby to new audiences.”
Mitchell added: “I am incredibly proud to have the opportunity to represent Team GB and to lead this group of boys. We have worked so hard to be at this point, not just in the last six weeks but over the years.
“The opportunity to showcase our event to the world and represent Team GB while we do it is something very special. I wasn’t expecting to react the way I did. When Simon told me I was in the squad, and that he wanted me to captain it, I didn’t have any words and am still trying to let it sink in.”
Women’s squad: Claire Allan, Abbie Brown, Heather Fisher, Natasha Hunt, Jasmine Joyce, Katy Mclean, Emily Scarratt (captain), Alice Richardson, Emily Scott, Danielle Waterman, Joanne Watmore, Amy Wilson-Hardy.
Travelling reserves: Megan Jones, Kay Wilson.
Men’s squad: Mark Bennett, Dan Bibby, Phil Burgess, Sam Cross, James Davies, Alex Davis, Ollie Lindsay Hague, Tom Mitchell (captain), Dan Norton, James Rodwell, Mark Robertson, Marcus Watson.
Travelling reserves: Luke Treharne, Ruaridh McConnochie.