Rob Vickerman is savouring the return to the scene of one of England’s greatest victories in the build-up to the NZI Sevens in Wellington.
England are four points off the top of the table going into the fourth of nine legs in this season’s HSBC Sevens World Series on Friday and Saturday.
Their recent record there is good – a semi-final place in 2010 followed by a run to the 2011 final where they were beaten by eventual series champions New Zealand.
But 2009 was something special. With Vickerman back in the fold this term after signing full-time from Newcastle Falcons, almost half the current squad survive from the night when they came back from 17-0 down to take the title.
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Ollie Phillips and Vickerman’s tries got them back in it and Isoa Damudamu scored from the last play with Ben Gollings’s conversion completing a 19-17 win.
“It was a pretty special day and the whole squad were energised by that performance for the rest of the season,” said Vickerman.
“In New Zealand, 17 points down, you have to look deep inside yourself and come out with all guns firing. We got a great score from Ollie and that took us into a last two minutes that were pretty pulsating.
“Wellington is hard to describe if you haven’t seen it. It’s 30,000-odd people all in the most bespoke fancy dress you can imagine, a real party atmosphere with music pumping between each game. It’s a great atmosphere to perform in and beating New Zealand in the final was one of the best experiences for us.”
England, who retained their Dubai Sevens title in December, will welcome back John Brake from a hand injury and give a debut to Oxford University student Tom Mitchell at the Westpac Stadium this weekend.
They’ve spent the break between the Port Elizabeth and Wellington tournaments working on their fitness and adding detail to their tactical plans. The physical work has included track time with sprint coach Faye Downey and some less sophisticated sessions at Twickenham.
“We’ve spent time honing our fitness and looking at specific types of game play and of how we can vary it,” added Vickerman. “Especially for me, being full-time now means we can work on some parts of our game that can have a big impact on how we’ll play.
“We’re on our way to completing a ‘three tier challenge’ at Twickenham which means running up and down every set of steps in the stadium. We’ve done the bottom tier and that took 28 minutes. The guys were pretty emotional at the end of that.”
Tickets are now available for the London Sevens weekend on 12th & 13th May 2012, with weekend passes starting from £30, single day tickets from £18 and kids tickets at £5 each day. Visit Ticketmaster.co.uk or call 0844 847 2492. (Tickets are subject to availability and booking fees apply).