THE UK may be in the grip of winter but rugby fans from Ledbury can begin to think about dusting down their boots and registering their interest in the new season of the Secure Trading 24/Sevens Series.

The RFU-run community competition sees the country’s best amateur teams come together to battle it out for glory.

More than 40 local qualifier events are set to take place between April and June next year with one — the Seabass Sevens — taking place in Ledbury on June 16, 2018, before regional finals and a national final later in the year.

Next year’s competition is set to be bigger and better than ever before with more local qualifiers which are set to include women’s competitions and social tournaments.

The head coach of England sevens Simon Amor is urging teams to make the most of the opportunity by signing up.

“The growth of the series is fantastic for sevens in our country, providing a great opportunity for talented players across the country to compete on the national stage,” he said.

Now in its third year, the series aims to grow sevens rugby as well as increasing participation among men and women, attracting more than 10,000 players from all corners of the country in 2017.

Following the qualifiers, regional play-offs will take place to decide the teams going through to the national final.

There, a vibrant combination of electric rugby, entertainment and live music will ensure a unique experience for both players and spectators alike.

Last year Northern Lights and Ilkley from West Yorkshire were crowned the women’s and men’s winners in the national finals at Bath’s Recreation Ground with the sport set to take centre stage yet again in 2018.

Lights were made up of players from the north and the Midlands.

RFU rugby development officer Steve Grainger said: “The series is growing year on year, welcoming teams and players from across England’s grassroots game.

“As the tournament grows, the quality of the game does too with some fantastic rugby on display for spectators at every stage of the series.

“There has never been a more exciting time for rugby sevens as we get set to cheer on England at the Commonwealth Games in April and at the Sevens Rugby World Cup in July.

“We hope these major events will inspire new teams to enter the tournament and compete for the country’s highest national accolade in rugby sevens at a community level.”

Secure Trading 24/Sevens is an exciting grassroots sevens competition run by England Rugby.

The competition is open for all clubs and players, new and existing, to enter with local qualifiers taking place in 40 locations nationwide this summer.

People can visit to get involved.