WRU Head of Sevens Richie Pugh is thrilled some young Welsh players will get to experience the Rugby World Cup Sevens in September after qualifying for the Cape Town tournament (Sep 9-11).
Pugh, who lifted the trophy with Wales in 2009, gave his players a flavour of what they could expect ahead of their RWC qualification tournament in Bucharest last weekend.
“To have the opportunity to represent Wales at a Rugby World Cup is something special, especially for those who haven’t been to a world cup before. We have the Commonwealth Games at the end of the month and now to have this to look forward to is brilliant for them. It’s in Cape Town – where Wales played last weekend – which is a special place to play. I haven’t really spoken about my Rugby World Cup experience with the group as yet – this is a chance for them to create their own history.”
Pugh believes it was a case of job well done in Bucharest on the weekend.
“It was a successful tournament. The boys gave everything in a very hot environment but we are all pleased to book a place on the plane to South Africa. Our mindset was to do a professional job. We were a World Series team, so everyone saw an opportunity to get a scalp against us but we knew if we got our principles right, we would do well.”
Wales men’s only loss of the weekend was by a converted try to Germany who went on to beat Italy in the RWC qualification match.
Pugh added, “We showed good character to bounce back and beat Belgium in the RWC qualification match.
“We knew it was all about that fourth game of the tournament. We made it difficult for ourselves by conceding two quick tries against the grain of play, but showed good resilience to come back into the game and we sealed a comfortable win in the end.
“Lloyd Lewis was picked for his pace, we’ve seen that on the World Series, and he’s sharp and full of confidence going into Commonwealth Games. His two tries in that final match were crucial.”
Wales’ women weren’t quite able to close out a win over Germany on Day 2 to make it to a RWC qualification game but Pugh believes the group has made significant strides recently.
“The efforts of the girls and management in such a short period of time is huge. They pushed Germany all the way to try to get into the RWC qualifying match.
“Some of the players are 17/18 years old and they showed their progress by pushing Germany all the way in their last pool match. Without a doubt, their performances have improved with each tournament and they have played the likes of Ireland who have been in World Series finals this year. Our players are only going to get better having experienced that level of competition.”
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