Sam Cross has left the Wales Sevens squad to join Ospreys, the Welsh Rugby Union can confirm.
The 26-year-old was due to make the full-time move to regional rugby with Ospreys next season, but has cited family reasons for being unable to continue with his duties as a Wales Sevens contracted player.
Wales Sevens head coach Gareth Williams believes that the player’s departure will be a short-term blow to the programme, but said:
“We have actively played a part in exploring opportunities in the 15s game for Sam and, as a result, he gained international honours during the Autumn campaign last year.
“We also supported him and his partner through the birth of their daughter early this year, and respect and understand his desire not to travel due to this happy new development in his life.”
Williams has stated that helping players to realise their regional ambitions is a fundamental part of the Wales Sevens programme but admitted he had hoped to have Cross’s services in a significant year for the sport.
The Gwent product has featured in over 40 tournaments for his country, won an Olympic silver medal in Rio 2016, and was last season named the DHL Impact Player of Year in the World Rugby Sevens Series.
“As a team, we are delighted Sam has secured a long-term future in regional rugby, although it is a disappointment ahead of April’s Commonwealth Games, the Sevens World Cup in July, and the remainder of the World Rugby Sevens Series.”
Wales Sevens have negotiated a swap deal with the Ospreys, whereby Tom Williams – the former Wales U20 player who has recently impressed in sevens – will be part of the programme until the end of the World Cup in San Francisco.
“We love having Tom in our programme and he is an exciting talent,” said Williams. “We look forward to supporting him through the end of his rehabilitation from a broken arm and returning to competition mid-March. Given the circumstances, it was important that we received a boost in the form of Tom Williams.
“We were always eager to have him as part of our wider squad through our regional relationship leading towards the Commonwealth Games.”