sports gazette

EXCLUSIVE: Phil Burgess- Time to step up in Sydney from setback in Wellington

Published: 2 Feb 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 Wellington Sevens.


So it wasn’t quite the golden route from Cape Town as we had some woes in Wellington last weekend.

Day one went very well - 40-0 victory over Papua New Guinea, 26-7 victory over Argentina and 31-12 victory against Kenya, the most points scored of the day.

However, the second day was not so good as we lost 14-12 to Scotland in the quarter-finals. Dan Norton got us an early try but two first-half slip-ups put Scotland 14-7 ahead.

We tried to push for the equaliser and Oliver Lindsay-Hague scored late on but we were unable to convert.

In the fifth-place semi-final, we were drawn with New Zealand but succumbed to a 24-0 defeat.

Areas to be improved

Coming off the back of a good start, we were extremely disappointed to finish seventh. We played five games over the weekend and were quite disappointed with many aspects.

This was mainly focused on our basics within the pass and the tackle, which are hopefully easy fixes going into Sydney.

I think our individual ability got us through day one, but we came unstuck against a good Scotland team where we didn't defend as a team and we also had poor pass accuracy.

This was the vital missing cog that meant we were on the losing side.

Saying that, I think we are very good at coming from behind in games. Over the years, we have trailed in many games at different points.

I think as a team, collectively, we have strong mental resilience and so we can deal with being down well.

We all understand that we are aiming for one goal - there are always setbacks but we step up from them.

It wasn’t the best of weekends but I think the main lessons for us will be about defending as a unit and improving our pass accuracy!

We all understand that we are aiming for one goal - there are always setbacks but we step up from them.


We’re jumping across the Tasman Sea to Sydney this weekend, where we won the round in 2003 on the way to our last World Series victory.

For me this is my first time in Sydney so I am really excited by the opportunity to play here.

We all know how big rugby is in Australia and last year it was a sell-out crowd, so I'm looking forward to playing in a hostile environment again. 

We’ve got a challenging group with South Africa, the winners in Wellington, Kenya and Japan. The big task will be finishing top of the group.

I think if we go back to our basics in attack and defence we will put in performances we can be proud of, and this will help us with our season goals. 

Pre-match rituals

Rugby sevens is a very unique sport and when it comes to pre-match rituals, it’s a different situation.

I don't think many people have rituals within sevens, more so because of the potential for short turnarounds between games and different stadiums.

This means you can't always rely on being able to do the same things every tournament. 

Burgess will be speaking to Sports Gazette throughout the World Rugby HSBC Sevens World Series 2016/17. You can follow all the action in Sydney here!

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