sports gazette

EXCLUSIVE: Phil Burgess- HSBC Sevens World Series halfway now, Vancouver next

Published: 10 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 Vancouver Sevens.

Las Vegas

Las Vegas is split over three days, and we went unbeaten for day one but lost our quarter-final on day two.

We played two games in the evening of day one against Chile and Samoa. The latter was a fantastic game for the neutral Sevens fan in which we came out 12-7 victors.

On day two we played the USA, and if you thought Barcelona’s win was good how about this?! Being three scores behind and with one minute 40 seconds left, we managed to come back and win 24-17!

We faced New Zealand in the quarter-final later that evening where we came unstuck. We defended well but didn't get an opportunity to show how good we can be in attack.

There were very strong winds throughout the weekend and they reached a peak on Sunday. Both games, against Canada and Australia, were difficult, but we performed well and finished 5th overall.

Obviously we were disappointed to lose in the quarter-final, but we were very happy that, unlike in Wellington, we put in two more good performances and finished the tournament strongly.

I think we defended well against New Zealand but we didn't get an opportunity to control the game or the ball and so didn't have the opportunity to attack.

The Halfway Point & Tom Mitchell

Las Vegas was the fifth round of the World Series out of ten and we’ve learnt plenty of lessons in that time.

We would just like some consistency to our performances as we’ve had some great games but come unstuck twice at the quarter-final stage.

Tom Mitchell is the tournament’s top points scorer and conversion taker- he’s a great sevens player and leader. He enjoys what he does on and off the field and this reflects on the way he's playing.

For the last couple of years, he’s had a serious injury but has been able to maintain some game time and is really showing his class.

We would just like some consistency to our performances as we’ve had some great games but come unstuck twice at the quarter-final stage.

Vancouver & South Africa’s dominance

Vancouver up next and it’s a fantastic city. I think the fact Grouse Mountain is 40 minutes from the city centre is amazing- you can be skiing in no time!

Whilst this place is famous for its downward slopes, one team riding high is South Africa, who won again in Las Vegas.

They’re playing like they don't know how to lose. It’s a great challenge for us to play them in the pool stage in Canada but to be the best you must beat the best.

The South African team are defensively strong and this is why they are consistently the best team. They are so hard to break down.

And another thing…

I think it's interesting to see the 'no ruck' rule being used in union as it's been a key ploy in Sevens for the last couple of years. It makes the ruck situation quite difficult for both players and officials.

We recently had some decisions made by officials here in Sevens which are a direct response from union recently, that response being to slightly change the way the ruck is refereed.

This will mean that potentially the 'tackle only' situation will become something of the past.

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

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