EXCLUSIVE: Phil Burgess- Crowds can carry England sevens to success in Hong Kong
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 Hong Kong Sevens.
It was a great team performance, achieving our second victory of the World Series!
We were really tested on the second day playing the fourth, third and top teams in the overall standings.
But the first day was also tough. After beating Kenya 28-14 and Chile 26-0, we had to put in a solid performance against South Africa, and we ended up drawing that game 12-12.
The second day was all about knock-out rugby. We played well against New Zealand, snatching a 12-14 victory, and backed it up twice a solid 40-7 win against Fiji- but then it was South Africa.
Like any sevens game, a bounce of the ball can determine the result, but we were full of confidence going into the final and knew that we were going to give it everything.
We went out with a plan and just needed to perform.
And that we did! Dan Norton sealed a 19-17 victory for us in the dying minutes of the match.
Improvements & season ambitions
The team have been very fortunate to have a limited amount of injuries this year, with the same 12 players playing for the first five tournaments.
I think that success is a by-product of being able to trust each other and know we are going out to perform the best we can.
As well as this, key players have but in big performances at the right times.
Rich De Carpentier played fantastically well in Vancouver- he was physical, abrasive and confrontational and gave us fantastic attacking intent.
Norton was back at his best scoring some fantastic tries and some great defence- he's also on for top try-scorer of all time in sevens- but a lot of players all performed really well- it was a team effort.You can have blistering sun, torrential rain, unbelievably humid conditions… all in the space of five hours!”
We are solely focused on our performances, with results and the winning the result of that. We are aware of South Africa leading the way, but we need to focus on our consistency as the last time we won a tournament, we finished 7th in the following tournament.
I think maybe a little bit of complacency coming from off the back of other wins meant that we didn't perform how we wanted to after the breaks.
With the failure we felt in Wellington, we hope to be in a better place as a team to understand how we need to perform every time we take to the field.
Hong Kong is full of expats, so support for England here is very high which is great- almost like Twickenham abroad!
The whole city is drawn into the sevens, with everyone looking to get tickets to go to the big event.
Played in the picturesque Hong Kong Stadium, I think one of the most unique features is the weather. You can have blistering sun, torrential rain, unbelievably humid conditions… all in the space of five hours!
We are always motivated to go out and play well for both the team and all our travelling support. With Australia, Samoa and South Korea in the group, we’ll look to start off well!
And another thing…
When I’m not playing sevens, I enjoy watching all sports, but I have been watching lots of golf recently.
With the Masters well under way, it's getting exciting to see who's going to perform. Also, the skill shown by some of the golfers is phenomenal!
Burgess will be speaking to Sports Gazette throughout the World Rugby HSBC Sevens World Series 2016/17. You can follow all the action in Hong Kong here!