A BROTHER and sister with Darlington Mowden Park connections are teaming up in a unique family double act for the two England Sevens sides in the Middle East this week.
Mike and Megan Ellery hail from Penrith, but 24-year-old Mike, a 6ft 5ins back row forward, had a season with Mowden five years ago while Megan, 21, is a current member of the club’s women’s team, the Sharks.
Both are in action at the Dubai Sevens – the first time England teams have featured a brother and sister. Their father, Nick, coached them at Penrith, which was also England coach Stuart Lancaster’s first club.
Mike is an established part of the men’s side taking part in the HSBC Sevens World Series while Megan, 21, makes her England debut in the IRB Women’s World Series event.
Her selection was a surprise to her brother, who said: “I thought she was going on a gap year after university, where she played netball.
“Then out of nowhere she told me she was going to do a trial for England Sevens. I didn’t even know she was playing rugby. Then she told me she was in the squad.
“I haven’t seen her play in the flesh but I have seen her on TV. In the clips I’ve seen she looks powerful and fast.”
Megan, a 5ft 8ins centre or wing, played rugby until she was 13 and returned to it from netball to play for Durham University and the Sharks before becoming involved in sevens through the GB Students side.
“I’d seen Michael playing and was pretty jealous of his lifestyle and thought I’d give it a go,” she said. “I never expected anything to come of it.
Everyone’s got this annoying little sibling who copies everything they do.
“Mike has always worked really hard at his rugby. He’s one of the most powerful sevens players I’ve seen and he’s deceptively rapid.”
The men’s event – the second of the nine-leg World Series – starts today with pool matches against Canada, the USA and Fiji. Mowden and Newcastle Falcons product Alex Gray is in the squad for the first time.
Men’s and women’s sevens competitions are scheduled for 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil and Megan said: “If things go well for us and we both get there it would be pretty amazing.”