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John gears up for Singha Sevens

13th June 2016

Cardiff Blues assistant coach Paul John insists the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s competition will be perfect environment to test the skills of his young charges this summer.

BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park will welcome reigning champions Newport Gwent Dragons and the other three Welsh regions – Cardiff Blues, Ospreys and Scarlets – for the first Singha Premiership Rugby 7s event of the season on July 22.

The top two teams will qualify for the Series Final at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry on August 6, against six of the best Aviva Premiership Rugby teams from their three pools.

A big crowd is expected in the Welsh capital in July as the regions go head-to-head for the first time in the new season.

And John believes the competition will be a vital proving ground for young players looking to demonstrate their ability to the coaches during pre-season.

“It’s a great learning environment for the players,” he said.

“It’s a good time to look at some young talent and it’s a good environment in which to expose their skills.

“Because of the nature of the tournament, and when people are away over the summer, it gives us the chance to look our academy.

“It’s mentally challenging to play three games in a matter of hours. It’s a very short period of time but it’s a great test of your skills.

“From that point of view there’s going to be a lot of young talent from all the Welsh regions and it’s a good selection environment for them too.”

It is an exciting time for Rugby 7s with the sport about to leap into the limelight when rugby union makes its first appearance at the Olympic Games since 1924.

Aviva Premiership Rugby leads the way when it comes to club 7a, and after this year’s Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Series kicks off in Cardiff, it will visit Exeter, Northampton and Newcastle before the showpiece final in Coventry.

And John, who led Wales to victory in the Rugby World Cup Sevens back in 2009, is excited by the growth of rugby union’s fast-paced younger brother.

“I think it is beamed to something like 350 million homes during the IRB series and with the Olympics on the way it’s only going to raise the profile,” he added.

“It’s amazing how quickly the four years have gone. It’s a great sport there’s so much happening during a game, there’s so many teams playing and it’s so unpredictable.

“It will be great entertainment to have the regions playing each other first up.”

The Singha Premiership Rugby 7s kicks off on 22 July with the Finals at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday 6 August.