The national Wales Seven's squad has had the perfect start to the nine tournament World Series with three successive wins in the pool stages of the Australian Gold Coast event
The young squad notched up impressive opening day wins on the world stage, defeating Scotland, Tonga and then England. Wales are rewarded for their wins, which were based on an intense bespoke three month conditioning and skills programme, with a quarter final showdown tomorrow (Saturday, 26 November) against super-power Fiji.
The individual and collective performances once again prove the value of an integrated player development pathway which continues to help young talent achieve full potential.
Recent graduates from the sevens programme such as national senior XV squad members Lloyd Williams of the Blues and the Ospreys Justin Tipuric, are shining examples for the current crop to follow.
The Wales Seven's squad arrived in Australia earlier this week to learn that current national sevens squad players Lewis Evans, Alex Cuthbert, had earned selection into Warren Gatland's fifteen a side squad.
Paul John's men began their series campaign with a comfortable 24-7 victory over Tonga before overcoming a stubborn Scotland side 14-12. But the men in red saved their best for last as they recorded an impressive 21-7 win in the Pool D decider over the experienced arch rivals England.
Wales will now play Fiji in the Cup quarter-final tomorrow after the south sea islanders finished second in their pool behind New Zealand.
The tournament victories and selection accolades are the latest testament to the success of sevens as an important feeder and development structure for young Welsh talent into the senior international game.
The Welsh Rugby Union pinpointed the Wales Seven's team as a key component of the elite pathway structure which delivers players through to senior honours.
The WRU Head of Rugby, Joe Lydon, said, "I am delighted that the structures we now have in place are again paying dividends.
"We recognised that the international sevens circuit is an important platform through which we can identify, nurture and develop talented young Welsh players.
"The intense training and competition programmes of the world series create a test environment for talented players and coaches who have an opportunity to compete in front of big crowds at some of the best stadiums in the world."
Lydon added, "The training and preparation structures we have in place under Head Coach Paul John also expose these young men to the kind of discipline which ensures they are able to cope with the demands of an elite environment.
"Pre-tournament conditioning with conditioning coach Wayne Proctor was a high priority ahead of this series and so far the squad appear to be reaping the rewards.
"They operate under some intense pressure but they have the support systems in place through our delivery structures to make sure they learn how to thrive on that sort of intensity.
"We are now beginning to see some meaningful examples of how players benefit from what we have put in place and make it through to the top of the game.
"Wales cannot afford to lose out on any of the available player potential we have and our policies are now working.
"An important element of this is the existence of the WRU National Centre of Excellence which is a great facility at which talented young players can refine and hone their skills.
"We are now putting in place structures which mean that coaches like Shaun Edwards, Rob Howley and Neil Jenkins will play active roles in the development of young talent alongside their commitments to the senior squad.
"All these initiatives fit a clear strategy which reaches out through the Regions and the Premiership Division into the heart of the Welsh game which is the breeding ground for talent."
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.