Exeter Chiefs skills coach Ricky Pellow believes news that the European Grand Prix 7s Series is heading to the Westcountry is a major coup for the rugby-mad region.
Tickets, which have officially gone on sale, will see the cream of European Sevens talent descend on Devon on July 11-12 for the final leg of the Series, which also takes in rounds in both Moscow (June 6-7) and Lyon (June 13-14).
With qualification for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil on the line, the weekend promises to be an important competition for the seven-a-side game – and will see the home unions of England, Scotland and Wales, tackling rivals from Russia, Spain, Belgium, Georgia, Portugal, France, Germany, Italy and Lithuania.
Having last year been staged in Manchester, organisers of the competition believe Sandy Park – which later this year also hosts three fixtures for the Rugby World Cup – will provide a worthy setting to the Series finale.
And Pellow, who each year oversees the Chiefs when they take part in the Premiership Rugby Sevens tournament, agrees that the demand to see the shorter form of the game will prove popular in these parts.
“I think it’s fantastic that the European Grand Prix 7s Series is coming to Exeter,” said Pellow. “Every year the profile of the Sevens game seems to get bigger and bigger and become even more popular with fans.
“The fact that the GP Series forms part of the qualification process for next year’s Olympics means that every country will be going hard to try and win it. Sevens, as everyone knows, is not only a very skilful form of the game, but physically it takes an awful lot out of the players. The fitness levels these guys have nowadays are unbelievable and it just adds to the spectacle.”
In recent times, Westcountry clubs have helped to provide the initial stepping stones for players such as Sam Blanchet, Rob Coote, Phil Burgess and Chris Cracknell to establish themselves within the England Sevens set-up.
Pellow added: “Just here at the Chiefs we’ve worked with a number of players in the Premiership Sevens who have gone on to play at the top end. Guys like Sam Blanchet, Rob Coote and Luke Treharne, they’ve all been part of our set-up in recent years and then gone on to do very well playing Sevens around the world.”
With demand for tickets for the Exeter leg sure to be high, supporters wishing to take in the weekend are advised to book their place early by clicking here
Tickets are priced at £15 for a day pass for Saturday or Sunday, or £25 for a weekend pass which includes entry to the Friday night event. Children’s tickets are also available £7.50 per day or £10 for a weekend pass.