Over 980 under-13s from 83 schools across the East of England are due to compete for a place at Franklin’s Gardens finals day in April, with Milton Keynes providing a seventh regional leg alongside Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Suffolk, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
The past week saw the 2015 Elite Insurance Sevens Series kick off in Suffolk, with RGS Colchester emerging victorious at Colchester RFC. Finalists Barnardiston Hall also advanced.
A day later, Cambridge RFC welcomed another 10 sides for the Cambridgeshire leg. The Perse School powered to the title on an unbeaten afternoon, seeing off Comberton Village College in an end-to-end final.
As numbers continue to rise, Will Parkin, Elite Insurance Sevens Series manager for the Saints, has been encouraged by a fantastic start to 2015.
“It’s really hit the ground running,” he told SaintsTV. “The huge backing of Elite Insurance shows in just how big the tournament has become - we’ve gone from 18 teams to 83 in just two years.
“The standard also continues to rise and I think the most pleasing thing is seeing the lads who perhaps don’t play as much rugby really starting to push those that do.
“The backing of Elite Insurance means that over the next year, in the run up to the Olympics, we’ll be able to continue to raise the profile of rugby sevens and of Northampton Saints.”
The rapid growth of the tournament – which has seen participants double from 2014 to 2015 – is thanks largely to Elite Insurance – the Saints’ Elite Sponsor.
Group Executive Office at Elite Insurance, Barbara Bock, is delighted to see the impact the competition continues to have on aspiring rugby players.
“It’s a very exciting year for us,” she commented. “For us, the huge positive is seeing that a programme like this is reaching so many children and hopefully it’s only going to get bigger.
“It’s all about spreading rugby, particularly sevens because of the Olympics and it’s really about what we at Elite Insurance can do to promote the sport.
“It’s about fostering the youth of today and the talent of tomorrow. Hopefully one day you might see the lads that have been involved in this tournament going on to play sevens at the Olympics.”
The Elite Insurance Sevens Series hits Franklin’s Gardens and Bedford Athletic RFC for the Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire legs.
One of the Saints’ Elite Sponsors, Elite Insurance is dedicated to supporting youth rugby in the Eastern Counties and East Midlands. The Elite Insurance Sevens Series gives Under-13 players the opportunity to play a new Olympic sport, with separate tournaments for clubs and schools.
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The Elite Insurance Sevens Series is the latest in the wide range of age group tournaments organised by Northampton Saints. Over the course of a season thousands of young rugby players in age groups ranging from Under-7s to Under-16s descend on Franklin’s Gardens on first team match days, with trophies and medals handed out on the main pitch during the half-time interval of that day’s Saints game.