sports gazette

EXCLUSIVE: Phil Burgess- Luck of Las Vegas must be on our side after Sydney!

Published: 2 Mar 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 Sydney and Las Vegas Sevens.


Sydney was a really fun tournament! Playing in front of a sell-out crowd is a great feeling and putting in good performances is always rewarding.

We had a good day one, finishing three from three, and showed good progression through all the games.

We had a rocky start against Kenya as we went into half-time 7-0 down. But a winning try by Rich de Carpentier saved the day.

As a 12-man squad we are all playing for a reason and games are not won in the first half, so having a strong bench with great impact really paid dividends.

Rich added some great energy and gave us a real ‘go forward’ which allowed us to take control of the game. In fact, throughout the tournament all the subs coming on have really made a positive impact!

After beating Japan 26-0, we faced South Africa in the group stages and managed to win 21-15 - AND I managed to get on the scoreboard!

It was a great feeling. We had joked that I had been very close to scoring and never actually crossed the line. We wondered whether it would ever happen and fortunately it did!

The second day of a tournament is always difficult but we saw off Argentina 24-7 and New Zealand 12-5.

Carrying through fatigue and injuries from the first day, you need to get yourself up for the most important games where the medals are won.

Like any team, we always need to be at our best to get the results. Unfortunately, we didn't show well in the final and South Africa outplayed us, winning 29-14.

We've now been in three of the four 2016/17 World Series final and all of them against South Africa. They are the team to beat and we love playing against the best.

South Africa played fantastically well, and caused us all sorts of problems. Justin Geduld was my stand out player, just marshalling the game and showing his class.

Like any team, we always need to be at our best to get the results. Unfortunately, we didn't show well in the final and South Africa outplayed us.

World Series breaks

We’ve had a month since Sydney to prepare for the next stage of the World Series in Las Vegas.

The best bit about the breaks is the opportunity to recover and get some good training in before going again and performing. 

The challenges we face are that the only games we play are hugely important and competitive World Series games, so replicating the tournament feel at home is hard.

However, we enjoy this challenge and train extremely hard to reap the rewards going into the tournaments. 

Las Vegas

Las Vegas is a fantastic venue. Staying on the Las Vegas strip is a great experience and the tournament is unique because it is split over three days rather than two.

We're in a group with USA, Samoa and Chile so the stage is set for another competitive tournament for us!

Of course, Vegas is the home of gambling. However, we don't normally 'gamble' as such but make decisions which are often right or wrong- 50/50! 

But the biggest gamble I’ve taken on the pitch was probably in 2015. 15 minutes into a 20-minute final in Tokyo, we got a penalty five metres out from our line. I tapped and went which was a massive risk but it paid off and we managed to score the try!

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

^ Back to top ^

Rugby Union