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  • Harley Worth

Wales 7’s XV

* First thing to say this is clearly a parody team and is not meant to be taken seriously. I am fully aware that if this XV was played even at club level they’d probably get beaten. The second thing is that all my decisions are final and I’m not going to negotiate and re edit this. *

Now the housekeeping is out of the way, a bit about why I’ve done this. We hear a lot about the depth at openside flanker in Wales with a lot of the players who have worn the seven jersey for their club or Wales. These players display a wide array of skillsets all suited to play open side. Whether it’s hard tackling, work over the ball, carrying in the tight and loose, or wonderful link play, I saw the potential to come up with a select XV using these players. I’ll be upfront, I have massively cheated with some of these selections - namely in the front row and at 12 - but they’ve at least either played back row or have some of a 7’s skillset, but where possible I’ve tried to select a player who’s actually played at 7.

Speaking of cheating, the best examples happen in the front row, so well kick off there. To get the worst bits of cheating out of the way we have Nicky Smith and Dillon Lewis. Now to my very non-extensive knowledge and research, neither of these players have played pro rugby at 7. However, they are both excellent over the ball in a way that Same Warburton has been openly proud of, and he knows more about this then you or me. Hooker I’ve chosen the Dragons (RFC)’s own answer to Deon Fourie, James Benjamin. He may be a fringe player struggling to get game time in the heavily congested positions of hooker and back row but has switched between 2, 7, and 8 for the men of Gwent across three name changes.

In the boiler room, I’ve chosen two players at opposite ends of their careers. First up the saviour of Welsh rugby, Christ “be thy name” Tshuinza. Spent the majority of this season packing down at 7 for Exeter this season - I won’t say open side because Rob Baxter refuses to acknowledge the existence of the position - but in most teams he suits the role of an athletic second row/blindside hybrid. Next a man known by many of the CAP South Terrace as “Super, Super Josh, Super Joshy Turnbull”. A player so effective to teams that he can win 3 Six Nations titles without playing a minute and has dragged Cardiff kicking and screaming through so many games. A brilliant player across the back 5 the first name on this team sheet and the man I’m choosing to lead this nonsense.

Back row is much of a muchness as clearly all of these players could do a job at 7 and cover blindside and Number 8, but I’ve decided to select a 6, 7, 8 of James Botham, Tommy Reffell and Morgan Morris because I like them. Deal with it. Honourable mentions to Jac Morgan who was the closest player to overthrowing Reffell at 7, and the dreads of destruction Josh Navidi at 8 for Morgan Morris.

Moving onto the back line and this is where everything really becomes a stretch, starting with the half backs. At scrum half I’ve picked Ellis Jenkins, who played at 9 during his school years. Having filled in there for Cardiff to close out a game against Benetton in 2018 after both Williamses were forced off with injury, I decided he was the man to take it on. As for fly-half I chose possibly our most skilled 7 with the ball in hand, current Wales Captain, Justin Tipuric.

In the centres I’ve decided to bring a bit of skill and a bit of physicality. At inside Centre is my 3rd cheat selection is Seb Davies. Having played centre in his younger years, he has excellent handling and an underrated kicking game. Given that he’s already been selected at 6 and 8 for Wales it’s only a matter of time before Pivac picks him at 7 in his triannual game of back row tombola. To bring some strong carrying to the midfield, I’ve chosen Taine Basham as someone to carry and literally nothing else (maybe make a tackle).

Finishing off on the back three, I’ve gone for pace on the wings and pure class at the back. Thomas Young has made a huge impact for the Rugbies formally know as Blues since his return to work for his dad. A key highlight being the pace he showed to score against the Dragons after a Jarrod Evans break. On the left wing I’ve chose Dan Davis, a wonderful athlete that I enjoy watching play for Scarlets when he gets the opportunity. Special mention for a 7 who has an Olympic 7’s silver medal who regularly featured at wing for Scarlets before his unfortunate early retirement, James “Cubby Boi” Davies.

Now the player I’ve selected at 15 has covered openside so he’s in. Now full back for me, is a position where before anything else, a player needs to be calm under pressure and able to clean up the mess of his team. That being said, there is only one man for the job. A man who cleans up shit ball and turns it good for any team he plays for. That man is of course the man, the myth, the legend Taulupe Faletau.

Hope this has given you something to chuckle at and get you thinking. There are many players I could have put into this, so as I said at the start of this article, this is only meant as a bit of fun and not a serious team, so please don’t send hate on twitter. I will however be happy to receive your suggestions for the XV or ideas for the next one.

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