Unknown Chris Ashton played at Bury St Edmunds ULR7s

HE is now one of England’s great white hopes for the forthcoming World Cup.

But two years before Chris Ashton introduced his swan dive – and sticking out tongue – to the masses, he was actually starring at the day-long 7s tournament at Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club.

The winger was then on the fringes of the Northampon Saints side that won the inaugural ULR7s but his appearance shows the “stars of tomorrow” that could feature at this year’s event on Sunday, May 8.

Organiser Mike Robinson said: “This is a great opportunity to see top players on your doorstep. Two years ago, Chris Ashton played here having just come through at the Northampton Saints.

“At the time no one really knew who he was but he then became one of the stars of the Premiership team before breaking into the England set-up and winning a Six Nations winners medal. By coming to the 7s, you will be witnessing some of the stars of the future.”

The Saints will once again be sending a team but they face a stern challenge from fellow Premiership giants, Saracens, as well as last year’s winners England St George, who use the tournament to give experience to younger players who could represent the England 7s and beyond in years to come. The Welsh Warriors will also do likewise.

The Bury Gents will once again field a side to ensure the prestigious tournament has a good local side to cheer on. The Gents are largely made up of the current team although Robinson suggested they might look to recruit one or two additional players as well.

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“It is a wonderful experience for them and so many of our players want to be part of it,” he added.

n Can you remember seeing Chris Ashton play in the Bury 7s tournament in 2009? If so, what are your memories of him? Let me know at dave.gooderham@archant.co.uk

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