Bishop's Stortford winger Chris Smith called up to Wales rugby sevens squad for Commonwealth Games as replacement for injured Sam Cross
Bishop’s Stortford’s Chris Smith has received a call-up to Wales’ rugby sevens squad on the eve of the Commonwealth Games.
The winger has been chosen to replace Olympic silver medallist Sam Cross, who has had to withdraw due to a knee injury, for the tournament in Birmingham.
The event begins tomorrow (Thursday July 28) with the opening ceremony at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium before the sporting action gets under way on Friday.
The rugby sevens competition takes place from Friday to Sunday (July 29-31) at the Coventry Stadium.
Smith’s Wales are in Pool C and will take on Canada and Zambia on Friday before clashing with 2016 and 2020 Olympic champions Fiji on Saturday.
The quarter-finals are also on Saturday with the semi-finals and medal matches being held on Sunday.
Wales sevens coach Richie Pugh said it was a shame to lose Cross, but felt Smith, who has represented his country in the Singapore and Vancouver legs of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and is a PE teacher at Brentwood School, will be a good deputy.
“It’s obviously unfortunate for Sam. It was a boost to us to have him involved with the group with his experience and ability but that is the nature of rugby,” said Pugh.
“But we’ve got a more than able replacement in Chris Smith. He did the Singapore and Vancouver legs and performed well there.
“He is a teacher so he has been unavailable for other legs but he has been able to train with us in the build-up to the Commonwealth Games.”
Men’s rugby sevens has been played at every Commonwealth Games since Kuala Lumpur 1998, with a women’s event played for the first time at Gold Coast 2018. It is a core sport on the programme, meaning that it will be played at all future Games.
New Zealand won every single Commonwealth Games men’s rugby sevens tournament until losing in the final to South Africa at Glasgow 2014. However, they regained their title at Gold Coast 2018, with the New Zealand women’s team making it a unique double.