- England forward looks to mark 50th tournament with victory
- Rodwell says Hong Kong is perfect place to celebrate 50th tournament
This weekend marks James Rodwell’s 50th consecutive tournament for England Sevens, and the rangy forward says he can think of no better place to celebrate a half-century than in Hong Kong’s raucous, party-fuelled atmosphere.
Since his bow under Ben Ryan back in 2008, Rodwell has become an integral player for his country and such a long run in the squad is testament to both immense fitness levels and impressive longevity.
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Charting his time in the white shirt, the 29 year-old gave a self-deprecating glance at his fantastic achievement.
“I’m really excited for this weekend,” he said. “It’s been a great journey so far and hopefully it can continue a good while longer.
“Sevens is an incredibly demanding sport and I suppose I’m just fortunate that I haven’t had any serious injuries that have kept me out of the game for a long period of time.
“I absolutely love the game – crowds are always excited and that creates a real buzz. Hong Kong is a great place for me to reach the milestone.
“The crowd just give you such a big welcome whenever you’re on the pitch and the South Stand’s noise is second to none.”
Rodwell certainly has happy memories of the venue for the seventh leg of the current HSBC Sevens World Series campaign. In 2011, he scored a try in each of his side’s five games on the way to a final defeat to New Zealand and will be looking for a repeat this time as England face Canada, Argentina and Portugal in Pool C.
With youngsters such as Jack Clifford and Sam Blanchet involved in Simon Amor’s party, the former Worcester Warrior’s experience is extremely important.
Indeed, having recently signed a new two-year contract that will keep him involved in the England Sevens set-up until the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Rodwell’s enthusiasm is not dimming at all.
Photo: Getty Images
The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow is on the immediate horizon, but first is a significant task – making up ground on South Africa, New Zealand and Fiji at the summit of the Series ladder.
“The game of sevens has changed and grown a lot over the past six years,” he recalled. “When I first started I was with Moseley and made trips away with the sevens once every few weeks.
“Now we are going into training camps in London every week as part of a full-time environment. The squad has probably doubled in size, too.
“I’ve been really pleased with the changes that Simon [Amor] has made since coming in [last September]. They’ve really benefitted me and I feel like I’m playing some of the best rugby I have played.
“We’ve got a great blend of experience and youth coming through. Simon keeps things really simple and hopefully we can keep improving as we have done and win the tournament this weekend.”