Oxford number eight Will Wilson has been included in England’s twelve-man squad for this weekend’s Hong Kong Sevens tournament.
The 21-year-old will be one of four World Series debutants in a young squad picked with one eye on next week’s Commonwealth Games tournament.
The Hong Kong Sevens, which has been held annually since 1976, is arguably the most prestigious leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series, and will be contested by 16 teams including last year’s winners, Fiji.
Wilson told Cherwell that he was “absolutely stunned” by the news.
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“I played on the European circuit last summer, but had no idea that I could go from there to the World Series and gaining my first cap in such a short space of time while still trying to keep my head above water at Oxford,” he said.
“We’ve sent a slightly younger, less experienced squad to Hong Kong while most of the senior squad remain in England to prepare for the Commonwealth Games.
“We’ve come in for a little bit of questioning because of that, but it hasn’t affected us at all – if anything, it’s made us even more determined to perform well and put in a performance to make England proud.
“Because of our inexperience, we don’t really know what to expect or what we’re capable of, but I’m so excited to test myself against the best and see how far we can go. To do it at such an iconic venue as Hong Kong is really the icing on the cake – it’s without doubt the highlight of my career so far and I can’t wait to take the field tomorrow.”
Hong Kong Sevens Fixtures:
Friday 6th April, 11.48am: England vs Scotland
Saturday 7th April, 4.00am: England vs South Korea
Saturday 7th April, 9.26am: South Africa vs England
Sunday 8th April: All knockout games.
All games live on Sky Sports Action channel.
Wilson has plenty of experience at a high level, having previously played for Wasps U18s, captained an England U18 tour to Samoa, and won three Blues for Oxford.
He played at flanker in the Oxford side that won 12-6 in 2015, and started at eight in the 2016 and 2017 defeats, scoring a try in the latter.
England have been drawn in Pool C in the Hong Kong Sevens, alongside Scotland, South Africa, and South Korea. Their pool games, which are being shown live on Sky Sports, will be played on Friday and Saturday, while the knockout stages of the tournament are held on Sunday.
England’s head coach, Simon Amor, said: “Hong Kong is such a prestigious event on the World Series circuit and will be a brilliant opportunity for our younger players.
“They will have some really tough competition but we are excited to see them showcase their talent as they push on for further honours within England Sevens.”
England’s Commonwealth Games squad will be captained by Tom Mitchell, who started at fly-half in Oxford’s 2011 Varsity Match win.