North Wales Exiles
North Wales Exiles face a baptism of fire when they tackle the biggest name in UK domestic rugby in the opening round of the Super Sevens Series this Sunday (May 6).
The Mackenzie Jones Solicitors sponsored rugby team, will be making their debut in the elite competition and waiting for them in round one are Aviva Premiership giants Leicester Tigers.
Ironically Richard De Carpentier, who played for the North Wales Exiles when they won the Llangoed and Manchester Sevens titles in 2010, will line up against his old team having signed for the Tigers at the start of the season.
The 16 team competition, which runs over four weekends during May and June, will pit the best sevens players in theUK against each other. There are 12 core teams which will play at every tournament and they will be joined by four guest sides.
The first tournament is the ULR Rugby Sevens Tournament, in Bury St Edmonds, and sees the talented North Wales side drawn in what has been described as the "Group of Death" alongside Leicester Tigers, HFW Wailers and Templars.
The Wailers won the famous Heineken Amsterdam Sevens in May 2011 beating Templars in the final. Wailers made the final of the Dubai Sevens in December again having knocked out Templars in an earlier round.
The North Wales Exiles have themselves enjoyed some success over the last two years and are now regarded as the best sevens team inWales. In 2010 they won the Manchester Sevens and Llangoed Sevens, as well as finishing runners-up at Caldy.
In May 2011 they came within a whisker of winning 10,000 Euros at the Heineken Kinsale Sevens, inIreland, taking the final all the way to sudden death. They went on to record stylish wins at the Caldy Sevens and won the Plate Final at the Newquay Surf Sevens.
Exiles boss Marcus Copeland has decided not to name his squad ahead of the tournament but he is expected to take James Farrell, from Rhyl, who has captained the team on five occasions. Danny Bibby is unavailable after being called into the England Sevens team for the televised IRB competition inGlasgow.
"We have decided not to name the squad until Saturday but it will be available to see on our new website www.northwalesexiles.com and you will also be able to click on a link which will show you televised highlights from the tournament and other rugby sevens news."
England rugby union winger David Strettle is to be special guest at this year's tournament. The Saracens player, who has been capped 11 times, will present the trophy to the winning team in the first of the Super Sevens Series tournaments for 2012.
The event, which is expected to draw a crowd of 3000 spectators will see sixteen of the top national and international sevens rugby teams complete at the Haberden, home of Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club.
"The quality of the rugby will be very high with some of the best Invitational and national 7s teams playing including the White Hart Marauders, HFW Wailers, Social Vibe Pups, Samurai Barracudas, Northampton Saints, Leicester Tigers and the North Wales Exiles. Following the late pull out of Romania, we are delighted to have an entry from the up and coming Nigerian national 7s side, who have recently been making a real impact in the World Series, and are the team to watch for the future. This is a real coup for us," said Mike Robinson, event organiser. "It will be a fantastic day for anyone that loves rugby and a brilliant opportunity to see some of the best sevens players in the world play. For
example Wales 7s star Will Thomas, who recently played in theTokyo leg of the IRB world 7s series is appearing for the Barracudas together withAustralia 7s player Tim Walsh as their coach. "It's hard to pick out any favourites this year as there is little to choose between any of the teams," he added.
This is the first time the Bury St Edmunds ULR Tournament has been selected as a Super Sevens Series tournament and puts theSuffolk club on the national stage of fixtures. Super Sevens Series rules are in line with the IRB World Series and there will be 12 core specialist sevens teams competing with four invited sides - guests of Bury St Edmunds - to make up the sixteen. Guest sides this year are Northampton Saints, Leicester Tigers, Esher andNigeria.
Points are accumulated throughout the series with an eventual overall series winner coming from the team with the most points across all four events.
Competing for the SSS series prize are:
Burrda Sport Ronin
White Hart Marauders
i- Synergy Kamikaze
Akuma North Wales Exiles
Social Vibe Pups
As well as the rugby, there will be a Suffolk beer festival running from Friday 4th May through to Sunday 6th featuring a range of locally brewed ales. Other activities include a children's play area, food and cake stalls as well as several stands selling crafts and gifts. Gates open from 10am with the tournament kicking off at 10.30am. Tickets are £7 per adult, £3 for U16s and free for Under 5.