- England legend Jason Robinson lauds England Sevens wing Nick Royle
- He’s the fastest I’ve played with says RWC winner ahead of London Sevens
Photo: Getty Images
England Rugby World Cup winner Jason Robinson didn’t get the nickname ‘Billy Whizz’ for being slow, but the two-time British & Irish Lion says England Sevens wing Nick Royle is one of the fastest he’s ever played with.
Robinson and Royle have been teammates at National Two North Champions Fylde, with the veteran playing centre and helping send the 27-year-old over for 25 tries in 19 games.
And as Royle prepares for a tilt at the Emirates Airline London Sevens title at Twickenham Stadium this weekend, he’s got a glowing endorsement from the only Englishman ever to have scored a try in a Rugby World Cup final.
"At Fylde we’ve got one of the fastest wings I’ve ever played with, Nick Royle of England Sevens who will be in action at Twickenham this weekend,” said, Robinson who has only been playing in Flyde’s home games this season.
"Nick has scored a lot of tries and I said to him ‘what would it’ve been like if I’d played the away games as well’, I’ve had my time to scoring tries so I just supply the guys around me from centre.
"It’s been brilliant to work with Nick and I’m looking forward to seeing him running out at a packed Twickenham at the weekend."
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Robinson enjoyed a glittering international career, with two of his 51 England caps arriving in the 2003 and 2007 Rugby World Cup finals, but he admits to casting envious glances at his Fylde teammate when he sees how the abridged form of the game has developed into an international showpiece.
"Probably the last time I played sevens was at Twickenham 15 years ago but the way the sport has grown is just fantastic, with the inclusion in the Olympics in Rio in 2016 and with the HSBC Sevens World Series.
"Travelling all over the world, playing in front of big crowds, playing exciting rugby – what a great environment so imagine having that on your CV.
"I know from having played with Nick this year that he’s been everywhere – Dubai, Las Vegas, New Zealand. It’s great and although as a player you want to go to all these different places and play, when it comes to really wanting to win and perform there is nowhere better than home soil.
"Twickenham will give them a fantastic crowd, a great environment to play in and great home support."
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Head Coach Ben Ryan’s England will start the London tournament 13 points behind HSBC Sevens World Series leaders New Zealand, knowing that they need back-to-back victories at Twickenham and the final round of the series in Scotland to have a chance of delivering a maiden overall title.
Robinson, now 36, acknowledges it will be a tough ask to overhaul the leaders but says anything can happen in the high-octane world of elite sevens.
He added: "England are 13 points behind New Zealand but with the points structure it’s possible. If England could meet New Zealand in the quarter-finals and knock them out there it would set it up nicely.
"When you’re playing 15s you’ve got 80 minutes and if you go a couple of tries down you know you’ve got time to turn it round. In sevens it’s not quite like that, time can be against you.
"It’s high-stakes because one mistake can cost the game. We all talk about attacking in sevens but defending is so important – you’re defending against some of the quickest players in the world. Because they’ve got so much space you need to work exceptionally hard to shut the gate when it comes to defence otherwise they’ll be through and that could be the turning point in the game."
Join the beach party on May 21 and 22 at Twickenham Stadium in the Emirates Airline London Sevens, the penultimate leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series. Tickets are available from £15 via RFU.com.
Jason Robinson is a HSBC Rugby ambassador. He was speaking ahead of the Emirates Airline London Sevens, the penultimate leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series. For more information visit www.irbsevens.com