Wales Sevens coach Gareth Baber has named a strong squad for the Hannover Sevens (July 12/13) in a bid to win entry to the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai next March.
Wales are seeded second for the final European leg of the World Cup qualification series of tournaments after winning their two preliminary qualifying events in Denmark and Georgia.
Portugal are no 1 seed and Wales will need to finish in the top two of their Pool which features Italy and Ireland in order to guarantee RWC qualification. If they reach the semi-finals, they will play for important Rugby World Cup seeding.
Five teams from Hannover will travel to the RWC Sevens in Dubai, joining the three European sides- England, France and Scotland - who pre-qualified courtesy of their 2005 Melrose Cup quarter final places in Hong Kong.
The Wales squad includes Blues players Andy Powell and Dafydd Hewitt, as well as other Arms Park regular Gareth Chapman.
Sevens Coach Gareth Baber, who combines his role, as national Sevens Coach with his regional position as Blues Skills coach, has named a 13 man squad for the FIRA AER tournament in order to give former Blues outside half Nick Macleod a chance to recover from a knee injury. The squad will be reduced to twelve before the squad depart for Germany next week.
Baber said, "We have put ourselves in a good position by virtue of winning our two recent tournaments in order to get to this tournament in the first place. But the Hannover Sevens promises to be a highly competitive competition with all twelve teams having reached this stage through their own qualifying tournaments.
"We have met the likes of Spain, Portugal, Russia and Georgia at IRB Sevens Series tournaments and we are under no illusions about the standard of other teams such as Ireland who beat us in Denmark, and Italy.
"We have selected players who have participated at a number of IRB tournaments this season and we are confident in their ability if they perform to their potential.
"While Germany is not renowned for their rugby tradition, over 30 000 tickets have been sold for the event so we are expecting a great atmosphere similar to IRB tournaments."
Hannover Sevens July 12/13
Portugal, Wales, Ireland, Spain, Russia, Italy, Ukraine, hosts Germany, Romania, Poland, Belgium and Georgia.
The top two teams from each Pool will go through to the semi-finals. The top five teams from the Hannover Sevens will qualify for Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai next March.
Wales Pool matches: Poland, Ireland, Ukraine, Italy, Belgium
Wales Sevens squad for Hannover Sevens:
Johnathan Edwards (capt, Llanelli Scarlets), Lee Beach (Neath), Rhodri McAtee (Cornish Pirates), Lee Williams (Llanelli Scarlets), Martin Roberts (Llanelli Scarlets), James Lewis (Newport Gwent Dragons), Gareth Chapman (Cardiff), Alec Jenkins (London Welsh), James Merriman (Neath), Dafydd Hewitt (Cardiff Blues), Andy Powell (Cardiff Blues), Richie Pugh (Exeter Cheifs), Nick Macleod (Sale Sharks)
For more information contact Liz Jones, WRU Communications Manager, tel 07736 056669
Tournament website: http://www.hannover-sevens.de/