The British Olympic Association has today announced the names of the 24 men and women who will compete in rugby sevens at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games - and Tom Mitchell will be skipper of the side..
Mitchell, who was born in Cuckfield and a product of Worth School, said: “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.”It will be the first time in 108 years that Team GB has had representation in rugby at Olympic level and a first for the seven-a-side format.
Competition takes place over six days with the women competing first from August 6-8 at the Deodoro Stadium in a pool which includes hosts Brazil, Japan and Canada.
The men’s competition follows from August 9-11 with Kenya, Japan and New Zealand waiting in the pool stages for Team GB.
Emily Scarratt will captain the women’s squad which features a number of experienced names from England’s 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup winning side and the squad who have competed in the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series last season as professional athletes.
The women’s squad, who have been training full time as a wider GB group since October last year, have played in invitational and training tournaments around the globe this season alongside England’s exploits on the circuit, in which they won the Langford event.
The men’s squad will be led by Tom Mitchell and names a number of experienced sevens specialists including James Rodwell, who set a new world record earlier this year after playing in 69 consecutive HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series’ tournaments, and Dan Norton, the series’ fourth-highest leading scorer of all time.
Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors), nominee for breakthrough player of the year following last season’s Rugby World Cup, and James Davies (Scarlets) are named alongside Ollie Lindsay-Hague (Harlequins) as well as Marcus Watson (Newcastle Falcons) as the four 15-a-side players with previous sevens experience.
Team GB Chef de Mission, Mark England, said: “It’s great to welcome rugby back into the Olympic family and announce our first squad of players in the sport for more than a century.
“These players have incredible pedigree in the sport and bringing them together to form the first ever Team GB sevens squads is very special and each of these 24 will now forever be a part of British Olympic history.
“Today’s announcement also means our team for Rio 2016 is complete and, after four years of hard work, we now have a strong squad of athletes ready to do their country proud at Rio 2016, our largest British Olympic Team for over a quarter of a century.
“I also genuinely believe this is our most talented ever team and to qualify in 23 out of the 28 sports is a fantastic achievement. For the athletes the Olympic Games represent a lifetime of dedication in the pursuit of excellence and I wish them all the best over the comings weeks. Let’s bring home a new generation of heroes to inspire the nation.”
Team GB Head Coach (Women) Simon Middleton said: “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.
“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.
“The strength and depth of the wider training squad has not made the final selection easy. The players have been together since October and have trained so hard and really pushed the standards up of this group. I would like to thank the players who didn’t make the final squad for their fantastic contribution and putting us in the best possible place to play in Rio.”
Team GB Head Coach (Men) Simon Amor said: “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 complimenting 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.”
Captain Emily 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.”
The selected athletes are:
Mark Bennett, 23, Glasgow
Dan Bibby, 25, Putney
Phil Burgess, 28, Farnborough
Sam Cross, 23, Newport
Alex Davis, 23, Bristol
James Davies, 25, Carmarthen
Ollie Lindsay Hague, 25, London
Tom Mitchell, 27, Wandsworth
Dan Norton, 28, Bristol
James Rodwell, 31, Cotteridge
Mark Robertson, 31, Galashiels
Marcus Watson, 25, Weybridge
Luke Treharne, 23, Llanelli
Ruaridh McConnochie, 24, Kingston upon Thames
Claire Allan, 31, Ealing
Abbie Brown, 20, Exeter
Heather Fisher, 32, Birmingham
Natasha Hunt, 27, Gloucester
Jasmine Joyce, 20, Haverfordwest
Katy McLean, 30, South Shields
Alice Richardson, 29, Worcester
Emily Scarratt, 26, Leicester
Emily Scott, 24, Corringham
Danielle Waterman, 31, Bristol
Joanne Watmore, 29, Chester
Amy Wilson-Hardy, 24, Poole
Megan Jones, 19, Cardiff
Kay Wilson, 24, Caterham
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