Three new signings for England Sevens
Former England Under 20 captain Alex Gray is one of three new signings announced by England Sevens ahead of the 2013/14 HSBC Sevens World Series.
Gray will be joined by Luke Fielden and Phil Burgess to add extra resources to Ben Ryan's squad ahead of a season that includes the HSBC Sevens World Series, the FIRA/AER European Grand Prix Series and concludes with the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next July.
Gray, 21, captained an England Under 20 side including Owen Farrell, Joe Launchbury and Mako Vunipola to the final of the IRB Junior World Championship 2011 in Italy.
“Our objective is always to add quality and competition for places as we continue to drive up standards ahead of an important season that concludes with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next July," said Ryan.
“Alex Gray, Phil Burgess and Luke Fielden are major signings for us. They’re athletic and talented players who already have a lot of experience. Their decision to join England Sevens is a reflection of how the sport is growing and also of how it will enhance and develop them further.”
Gray added: “Sevens is always something I’d wanted to be involved in and while I can see myself returning to 15s at some time in the future it is a great way of developing my game.
"England Sevens operate in a high-pressure environment wherever they play around the world and it’ll be a great way to test myself and my skills."
Burgess said: “Sevens has reached the time where it’s really going places and with the way it’s expanding, with the Olympics on the horizon in three years’ time, you can see the potential.
“It will be hard to leave 15s but for me and the way I play I believe I’ll be suited to switching to sevens full-time.”
England Sevens are back in action next month in the final two legs of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Glasgow on 4-5 May and have been pooled alongside Series leaders New Zealand, host Scotland and Portugal.
They currently sit 10th in the overall standings, and will head home for the Marriott London Sevens at Twickenham on 11-12 May for the ninth and final round of the Series before Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in Moscow in June.