New Wales Sevens head coach Richie Pugh has named four Cardiff Blues players in his squad for this season’s HSBC World Sevens Series.
There are also Cardiff Blues connections amongst eight centrally contracted players, although this will be the first squad without long-time squad member and captain Adam Thomas who retired from the international sevens scene last season.
Over the last two seasons Dane Blacker and Ben Jones have been the first choice half-back pairing for Wales U20, and they now graduate to the Sevens programme to continue their development.
Blacker has previous Sevens experience having starred for Cardiff Blues in the 2016 Singha Premiership Sevens, while as a former schoolboy sprinter Jones has the pace to compete at the highest level.
Joining them will be former Cardiff and Vale College player Daf Smith, who made his World Sevens Series debut in Hong Kong last season.
He joins the squad full-time after playing nine times for Cardiff RFC last season, while the fourth Cardiff Blues youngster involved also appeared in Blue and Black in the previous campaign.
Corey Howells was picked up from the Dragons academy system last summer and went on to score three times in 10 games for Cardiff RFC, while he was also involved in Cardiff Blues A’s Celtic Cup campaign at the start of this season.
All four will be joined in the squad by former Cardiff Blues academy players Ben Roach and Owen Jenkins, while Cai Devine, who appeared for Cardiff Blues A as a back rower this season, is also included.
Head coach Pugh, who played nine times for Cardiff RFC in 2007/08, has taken over from new Wales U20 boss Gareth Williams and told the Welsh Rugby Union’s official website, “There’s a fresh look to the squad and a lot of excitement for the series ahead.
“Exposure to the sevens environment, where players’ skills are tested under pressure on the world stage, is great for player development. Our aim is to help produce future regional and international players through the WRU pathway, and we’re looking to build on the success we’ve already had in doing that.”