Sussex ace Mitchell to lead GB Olympic rugby sevens team
Sussex rugby star Tom Mitchell will lead the Team GB rugby sevens side at the Tokyo Olympic Games - and another Sussex star is the squad's reserve player.
The British Olympic Association (BOA) has confirmed the selection of 24 sevens players - men and women - who will represent GB in Japan at the end of next month.
Mitchell will lead the men’s squad which includes four players who competed in Rio, including all-time World Rugby Sevens Series leading try scorer Dan Norton. Mitchell, 31, was born in Cuckfield and went to Worth School in Crawley.
Another Sussex player, Tom Bowen, is a reserve. Bowen has Brighton and Eastbourne links and played for Lewes as a junior.
Abbie Brown and Megan Jones will co-captain the women’s squad which features a number of players who have experience playing on the World Rugby Sevens Series and have played international rugby for a number of years.
The men’s competition will take place from 26 to 28 July, with the women’s tournament following on 29 to 31 July with the gold medal match happening on ‘Super Saturday’. All the action will take place at the Tokyo Stadium.
Made possible by an innovative commercial partnership with The National Lottery, the wider squads have been operating as GB7s based at Loughborough University since March and competed at the International Rugby 7s tournament at St. George’s Park and HPC International 7s in Ireland.
This weekend they travel to LA to take part in ‘Quest for Gold Sevens’, their final preparation event ahead of the Games.
Team GB Chef de Mission for the Tokyo Olympic Games, Mark England, said: “Rugby sevens made its memorable debut at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with both men’s and women’s teams inspiring fans across the globe with the fast pace and excitement that this sport has to offer. The men’s team coming home with a silver medal was a superb achievement.
“There is a huge amount of experience across both of these squads, not only from Rio 2016 but from many years of competitive rugby sevens which will stand these athletes in great stead heading into Tokyo. We’d like to congratulate everyone on their selection and look forward to seeing sevens in action at the Tokyo Stadium this summer.”
Women’s head coach Scott Forrest said: “Selection was very tough. We’ve had 22 players involved in the programme since we started in March who have created a very competitive environment. Every one of those players has been so important. And it’s not just about the successful 13 players who have been selected today. If we are successful in Tokyo, it’s going to be down to the whole squad, the whole 22 not just those who are going out to perform at the Olympic Games. I’ve seen massive improvements in the team and what we’ve managed to do since March. We’re now excited to see what we can do in 41 days’ time from now.
“For the 13 that are selected, when you look at the squad on paper it’s very exciting. This squad for me has the potential to go and win a gold medal. We have 41 days to go until the first game and understand that there are improvements we need to make over that period until we get to our first game. We’ve definitely got the potential and that for me as a coach is really exciting.”
Men’s head coach Tony Roques said: “We’re massively grateful to the National Lottery for us to be on this journey together. We’ve become a very tight-knit group and everyone has contributed. It was really tough to deliver the news to a lot of people I’ve known for a long time. Ultimately, I feel I’ve done what was right for us to be successful at the Olympic Games.
“I’d like to congratulate those selected. They’ve worked extremely hard over the last few months and deserve this opportunity. We’re all very much looking forward to continuing our preparation and then heading to Tokyo.”
Women’s reserve: Lisa Thomson
Men’s reserve: Tom Bowen