sports gazette

EXCLUSIVE: Phil Burgess - Despite Dubai Loss, There is Confidence in the Squad

Published: 9 Dec 2016

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 Dubai 7s.

So in Dubai, England finished third. Having lost to Fiji in the semi-final, we beat Wales 38-10 in the third-place play-off.

After we played our final game, we were happy with how ruthless we were against a strong Welsh team.

We were positive from our experience in Dubai at the start of December as we found that moments in the tournament where we came unstuck were all in our own control.

It was our ability that meant we were under pressure and some of those issues are very easy fixes!

The group stage was very strong for us as we beat Samoa, Russia and New Zealand to reach the quarter-finals.

We asserted ourselves in the early stages of the group games but it was more challenging against quarter-finalists Scotland.

We got a good start again but Scotland’s first-half comeback made us put on the pressure and we came out 24-21 winners.

We approached the semi-final against Fiji with a mindset to try and control the game and do things on our terms.

Unfortunately a couple of system errors and poor decision making meant that we were penalised at crucial moments and we lost the game 31-12.

The game was frustrating as we felt we certainly hadn’t left it all out there and we hadn't performed at our best.

All things considered, we took out an experienced team and threw some new blood into the mix, so this was always going to be a learning curve.

We performed very well as a team and gelled very well. The mental resilience shown by the team was great and the playing ability was outstanding.

We have a great character within our squad and so that helps everyone enjoy our time on and off the field!

The game against Fiji was frustrating as we felt we certainly hadn’t left it all out there and we hadn't performed at our best.

The Dubai 7s this year had a great atmosphere and was a fantastic way to start the World Series! As a team, we took away some valuable lessons.

From my rugby sevens experience of just over three years, I think that sticking to the plan for the whole game period is massively important.

Sometimes going off script can work but generally it will lead to moments of stress and uncertainty. This is something that came out of Dubai.

Yet there’s no stopping in this business! We’re already in Cape Town, preparing for Round 2 of the Series on the 10th and 11th December.

There is something very special about Cape Town - I think the uniqueness of this tournament comes with its fantastic surroundings.

The tournament takes place under the watchful eye of Table Mountain. Being surrounded by this natural beauty adds to the uniqueness.

Also, the rugby-mad South African fans really help to create a buzz and excitement around the tournament!

Whilst it was disappointing to not make the Dubai 7s final, there were some fantastic performances from the lads.

Special mention must go to Ruaridh McConnochie who made the Dubai Sevens Dream Team.

But I think Dan Norton had a fantastic first tournament in Dubai, scoring nine tries and 45 points for us. He really found his hot stepping feet! 

I am really excited to see how he goes in Cape Town and hope he maintains his momentum with another great weekend! 

England will face New Zealand, Argentina and Canada in Group C of the Cape Town round. There are some challenging matches, but I can’t wait to get started!

On top of this, South Africa won the Dubai 7s. Taking this victory back to Cape Town for Round 2 will be huge for the fans, so this should be an amazing tournament!

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

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