Wales name squad for World Cup defence

(IRB.COM) Friday 21 June 2013  
 Wales name squad for World Cup defence
Lee Williams is the sole survivor from the side that struck gold at the RWC Sevens in Dubai four years ago

Rugby World Cup Sevens-winning coach Paul John has named his Wales squad of 12 players to defend the title they won in such thrilling fashion four years ago in Dubai.

Carmarthen Quins' Lee Williams is the sole survivor from that side, who started as 80-1 outsiders but went on to beat New Zealand, Samoa and Argentina en route to becoming World champions.

With 30 IRB Sevens tournaments behind him, Williams brings a wealth of experience with only Rhys Shellard having played more tournaments (35) on the international circuit.

Wales will line up in pool E in Moscow with two-time Melrose up winners Fiji, Tonga and Uruguay.

Pontypridd's Adam Thomas will lead the side, which finished seventh in this season's HSBC Sevens World Series.

World Cup selection has proved a double celebration for the Davies household. Only days after Jonathan was selected for a starting berth for the British & Irish Lions to take on Australia in the opening test, his younger brother James has made the trip to Russia.

Alex Webber's rapid rise also continues with his selection. Webber began last season in the SWALEC League with Ystrad Rhondda before being handed his chance by John in Dubai in the second round of the world series. Still only 21, he is the youngest member of the squad.

Cardiff duo Gareth Davies and Alex Walker have both returned to Sevens duty having spent time with the Blues last season, while Rhys Jones returns to the fray having recovered from an injury which kept him out of the last two rounds of the world series.

Llandovery speedster Chris Knight has also been included along with Llanelli's Craig Price, Carmarthen Quins' Jason Harries and Llandovery's Adam Warren, who has just returned from Wales' two Tests in Japan.

Wales Sevens World Cup squad: Adam Thomas (Pontypridd), Alex Webber (Ystrad Rhondda), Lee Williams (Carmarthen Quins), Gareth Davies (Cardiff), Chris Knight (Llandovery), Rhys Shellard (Pontypridd), James Davies (Carmarthen Davies), Alex Walker (Cardiff), Adam Warren (Llandovery), Craig Price (Llanelli), Jason Harries (Carmarthen Quins), Rhys Jones (Llandovery).

Botia leads strong Fiji squad to Moscow

Lepani Botia has been named as captain of a strong Fiji men's squad set to travel to Russia in search of a third Rugby World Cup Sevens title.

Fiji's men won the Melrose Cup in both 1997 and 2005 with Waisale Serevi at the helm in Hong Kong, but were knocked out at the quarter-final stage four years ago in Dubai, when Wales went on to take the title.

Having led them to victory at the Gold Coast Sevens in Australia at the start of the current season, Lepani Botia returns to the side after a long injury lay-off and resumes the captaincy from veteran Setefano Cakau, who is a surprise ommission from the squad.

Coach Alifereti Dere explained that Cakau had missed out on selection due to other players 'stepping up'.

Notable recalls are Metuisela Talebula and Waisea Nayacalevu from last season's squad as well as Alipate Raitini, who returns for the first time since helping inspire that victory at the first round of this season's HSBC Sevens World Series, the Gold Coast Sevens.

Dere's men also won the Cup title in Hong Kong and finished the Series in third place, behind New Zealand and South Africa.

In Moscow the Fijians will start their World Cup campaign in Pool E against defending champions Wales, Tonga and Uruguay.

Fiji squad: Ilai Tinai, Watisoni Votu, Vereniki Goneva, Metuisela Talebula, Lepani Botia, Jasa Veremalua, Alipate Raitini, Samisoni Viriviri, Joji Ragamate, Leone Nakarawa, Nemani Nagusa, Waisea Nayacalevu

News of the other sides in Pool E - Tonga and Uruguay - will appear here.