England’s men and women sevens players could find themselves without contracts a year away from the Tokyo Olympics after the RFU scrapped its professional sevens programme for the rest of 2020.
According to a report in the Telegraph, both the England men and women’s sevens teams were this week informed by the RFU that their contracts would not be extended beyond the end of August.
The report states that these players could be out of contract until the World Rugby Sevens Series resumes next year and were told last month to ‘explore their options’ – which could include looking for Premiership contracts.
This comes after World Rugby confirmed that there will be no international sevens action for the rest of the year after calling off the remaining tournaments in the 2019-20 season and cancelling the Dubai and Cape Town legs of the 2020-21 season.
England’s RFU were projecting losses of up to 107 million pounds before the Covid-19 pandemic struck and missing out on the financial benefits that come with hosting the London Sevens has only worsened that projection.
The news will come as a massive blow to not only Team Great Britan’s hopes for the Tokyo Olympic Games next year – as they heavily rely on English players – but also to the players themselves, who are facing massive financial ramifications if they cannot pick up a Premiership contract.
It will also send shockwaves across the world, with other sevens programmes also looking to survive this period without any sevens rugby.
Marius Schoeman, the high-performance manager of SA Rugby’s sevens programme, confirmed that the cancellations were a big setback for the Blitzboks and Imbokodo – South Africa’s women’s sevens team.
‘The season that was called off definitely had an impact on the planning of our sevens programme,’ Schoeman told Rapport. ‘It will have a big financial impact on SA Rugby’s sevens programme.’
Kurt-Lee Arendse was on Thursday confirmed to have joined the Vodacom Bulls and could followed to the Vodacom Super Rugby and South African Pro14 teams by his teammates, with captain Siviwe Soyizwapi, Angelo Davids, Christi Grobbelaar and Stedman Gans rumoured to be set to play in the domestic fifteens tournaments for the rest of the year.
The Blitzboks are set to return to training next week after undergoing Covid-19 testing on Thursday as part of the return-to-play protocols.
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