sports gazette

EXCLUSIVE: Phil Burgess- Let's carry on the momentum from victory in Cape Town

Published: 25 Jan 2017

Phil Burgess, England Rugby Sevens player and a member of the GB team that won silver at the Rio Olympics, spoke to Sports Gazette about the Cape Town Sevens.

Cape Town

The second stage of the HSBC Sevens World Series took us to Cape Town in December. We were in a group with Canada, Argentina and New Zealand.

We played well in our first two games and then came unstuck against the Kiwis in the final game on day one.

We were happy with our performance up until that final group game where we didn't play to our minimum standards, and with the competition being so fierce we were well beaten.

This meant that we ended up second in the group, set up to play Fiji the quarter-finals.

Knowing that it was knockout rugby, we went into the game with nothing to lose and an injury time winner from Dan Norton sent us through 31-26 winners.

We played Scotland in the semi-finals, who we beat 44-13, and before we knew it we were in the final against hosts South Africa.

After going behind early on, Rich de Carpentier and Dan Norton put us ahead before half-time. The Springboks drew level before Ruaridh McConnochie scored the winner.

It was a slightly confusing situation as we didn't really know we had won as they scored with the last play... but it was awesome to win 19-17!

It was an incredible feeling to be able to play South Africa in front of a packed-out stadium, with everyone in that home crowd cheering for them.

Improvements and lessons learnt

I think the biggest improvement for us throughout the tournament was our ability to stick to our game plan and do what we had spoken about pre-game for the whole 14 minutes.

We still had moments that we had to learn from and took great lessons from them, so it was a really positive experience.

In terms of star players we had quite a few stand-out performances, but Dan Norton was clinical and magnificent.

McConnochie had another great tournament as well, really understanding his role in the team and making it his own!

It was an incredible feeling to be able to play South Africa in front of a packed-out stadium

We are still looking for a consistent performance throughout the whole weekend though, so I think that's still the biggest thing to work on.

We came unstuck in game three of Cape Town with the loss to New Zealand and that was a big lesson for us.

Wellington

Since Cape Town we have enjoyed the festive period, but now it’s off to New Zealand this weekend and the city of Wellington.

Wellington is a fantastic city… and a rugby-loving one!

This will only be my second time in Wellington as I have missed the last two years through injury, so I'm really looking forward to running out.

I think a few individuals have stood out for England in the previous two tournaments, but I believe any of the 12 players could be ones to watch.

This is because the fantastic form of some players is allowing the others to show the fantastic qualities they have.

We’re two points behind South Africa in the overall standings and we’re in a group against Kenya, Argentina and Papua New Guinea - bring it on!

Burgess will be speaking to Sports Gazette throughout the World Rugby HSBC Sevens Series 2016/2017. You can follow all the action in Wellington here!


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