By Will Rogers
The Welsh rugby sevens team put up a respectable performance at the Commonwealth Games in Coventry, but eventually fell to some very talented opposition.
In a tough group, Wales always knew they would be up against it and were hopeful of a victory in their opening match against Canada.
However, they were put to the sword by a powerful Canadian side, who are only one place above them in the Rugby Sevens Series standings, but looked far superior.
Two tries from Cooper Coats and one each from Alex Russell, Jake Thiel and Matthew Owuru removed any chances of a Welsh comeback as the Canadians cruised to a 31-0 victory.
Wales knew that to have any chance of reaching the quarter finals they would need to rack up the score in the afternoon session against Zambia.
Tries from Callum Williams, Cole Swannack and Morgan Sieniawski helped Wales into a first half lead, but a Zambian try meant that they were still in it at the break.
Tyler Morgan says many of the Welsh Sevens squad deserve places in the new, combined Great Britain teamhttps://t.co/CRespSmU6J
— The National Wales 🏴 (@nationalwales) July 31, 2022
However, Wales were able to pull away in the second half, with tries from Luke Treharne, Callum Carson and Chris Smith giving them a 38-5 victory.
Wales knew they needed a victory against Olympic champions Fiji to have any chance of making the knockout phase.
But despite an impressive performance that included four well-worked tries, they were unable to counter Fiji’s powerful, offloading game and fell to a 38-24 defeat.
That put Wales into the 9th-16th place quarter finals, with their match against Malaysia proving to be a stern test.
Malaysia had suffered three heavy defeats in the group stage but put up a strong performance against Wales.
But the star of the show was Williams, who scored a hat-trick of tries to lead Wales to a 33-14 victory.
So I’ve somehow just discovered that England, Scotland and Wales 7s will be competing as Team GB in the Series for the foreseeable… https://t.co/TwQxswxcCD
— Manny (#4EverGerd) (@Alcorn19911) August 2, 2022
Despite playing on the final afternoon, rather than the final session in the evening, Wales were still looking to end on a high, and a match against England would provide all the motivation that was required.
England started the ninth-placed play-off strongly, with Will Homer, a former Scarlet, and Api Bavadra scoring great tries.
However, Wales were not going to go down without a fight, with Morgan Williams scoring two quick tries to bring them within touching distance.
Yet it would prove not to be enough, as Wales fell to a 14-10 defeat to leave them outside of the top 10.
It was still a creditable effort from coach Richie Pugh’s men, having come into the tournament in 15th place in the Sevens Series standings.
One of Wales’ best performers, Williams, said: “The initial reaction is disappointment, but we’re proud of the boys and what we’ve done, the shift we’ve put in, but it is sad to finish on that note”.
I agree, Scotland, Wales & England should all still be able to put individual teams in the Sevens Series and I think the move could backfire.
— Ross (@Ross91164) July 30, 2022
Team-mate Lloyd Lewis said that the players were proud to wear the jersey as they may be wearing a GB kit for the foreseeable future.
The home countries of Wales, England and Scotland are merging to form a GB side who will compete in next year’s World Sevens Series, instead of the individual nations.
It means an uncertain time for the Wales squad players and their coaches, although they will continue to compete as Wales in future Commonwealth Games.
“We’re just trying to enjoy our time in the jersey while we can,” said Lewis.
“We had a big break during Covid as did most of the teams, which didn’t help, and then we had to start again from January.”
The tournament proved tough for all of the home nations, with only Scotland making the quarter finals.
South Africa eventually came out with the gold medal, defeating Welsh-conquerors Fiji in the final.