15th June 2015
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After earlier rounds in both Moscow and Lyon, the Devon city will be the final stop-off point next month (July 11-12) for Europe's top 12 Sevens teams as they prepare to do battle at Sandy Park.

With qualification for next year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro also up for grabs for a number of the competing teams, Cracknell believes the Exeter event will be a real spectacle for rugby-loving supporters in the region.

"I think it's fantastic that Exeter will be staging the final round of this year's European GP Series," said Cracknell, who represented England Sevens for six seasons before calling it a day last year.

"Having spent a number of years down in the region with both the Cornish Pirates and the Chiefs, I know how much the people love their rugby down there. Last year the event in Manchester didn't really take off, but I know it will down in Exeter because it's going to what I know is a real hot-bed in terms of rugby.

"Also the stadium and the facilities in Exeter, it's what you expect of a top event. What the Chiefs have achieved over the last few years, both on and off the field, has been fantastic and it's down to a lot of forward planning from Tony Rowe, Rob Baxter and others at the club.

"The fact Sandy Park is hosting the European Sevens, as well as Rugby World Cup games later this year, it shows how far the club have come in such a short space of time."

The 30-year-old forward played 33 tournaments on the IRB Sevens World Series, scoring 17 tries for his country and was one of the first full-time professional Sevens players.

As well as captaining his country, Cracknell's career highlights include England's first win in the Wellington tournament in 2009, beating New Zealand in the final, and the same team also went onto claim the London Sevens title later that same year.

Cracknell, who will be at the event as a pundit for Sky Sports, believes it's vital people in the area get behind next month's event and come out in force to create a real party atmosphere.

He added: "This year will be a lot about building the Sevens in Exeter, but I think in two or three years' time it will be a massive event and something that supporters will want to be part of.

"As I said, outside of London I don't think they could have picked a better area to take the series. Having the top European teams come to England and to Exeter is great for the sport."

Although retired from playing these days, Windsor-born Cracknell these days is part of the coaching team for Fiji's Sevens team, working alongside former England Sevens coach Ben Ryan.

"I'm still very much part of the whole circuit," he explained. "Sevens has been my life pretty much for the last eight years, but it's a great sport to be involved with. I've got to travel the world, play in a number of different countries and experience cultures that I probably never would have had I not been doing the Sevens thing.

"Of course it's tough playing at the highest level, but as a professional player that is what you expect. Each year the levels - especially fitness wise and skill wise - are going up and up. It's a tough environment to be in, especially when you add in all the travelling as well. It takes a lot on toll on your body and for new players coming in, it can quite often taken at least a year for them to get up to speed.

"That's why tournaments like the European Sevens are really good for teams like England. It allows Simon [Amor] to blood younger players in a tough, yet challenging environment. Opportunities like those they get in Moscow, Lyon and now in Exeter, they don't come along too often - yet they can be really beneficial in bringing through players."

Tickets for the Exeter leg are priced at £15 for a day pass for Saturday or Sunday, or £25 for a weekend pass which includes entry to the Friday night event. Children’s tickets are also available £7.50 per day or £10 for a weekend pass.

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Dave B

Member since: 10th July 2012

Hi, I am Dave, I run thebestof Exeter along with my colleagues. If you want to promote your business or event, get in touch with us on 01392 349 130.

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