England Men’s Sevens acting head coach James Rodwell hailed his side’s character after they narrowly missed out on a bronze medal against Australia at the World Series in Hamilton.
The Red Rose went down to a disappointing 33-21 defeat in Sunday’s match between the two semi-final losers, as tries from Alfie Johnson, Ollie Lindsay-Hague and Will Edwards proved in vain against the Wallabies.
Rodwell’s side had progressed into the semi-finals following impressive victories over Kenya, South Africa and Japan in Pool B, going down 10-5 to France in the last four to tee up a third-place play-off against Australia.
And while they were unable to secure the final spot on the podium, Rodwell believes his players can still leave New Zealand with their heads held high.
“I’m really proud of all the boys, the team and the management,” he said.
“We showed great character and resilience in winning the group and all three pool games, and the team performed really well in those first two games against Kenya and South Africa.
“Overall, I was really pleased with the contribution of our young players and it was great to get some of the senior boys back after injury, it’s a massive boost for the team.
“For me personally, it’s been a huge honour to lead the boys this weekend – I’m really proud of the effort and focus shown in the build-up and in training which transferred into the tournament this weekend.
“I’m massively proud of everyone’s efforts and hopefully we took a step forward this weekend – we’ll now try to get everyone rested and recovered so we are in a good place for next weekend in Sydney.”
England booked their place in the semi-finals following a flawless Pool B campaign, with Edwards, Lindsay-Hague and Dan Norton all impressing.
But their last four clash against France proved an obstacle too far, with Mike Ellery’s try being cancelled out by efforts from Remi Siega and Terry Bouhraoua to break English hearts.
And they were then toppled by an impressive performance from the 2001 World Cup runners-up, as scores from Lachlan Anderson, Rod Davies, Josh Turner and two from Henry Hutchison dashed their hopes of a bronze medal.
Rodwell’s men make the short trip to Australia next weekend for the next instalment of the World Sevens Series, where they will be looking to improve on their Hamilton performance and make the step onto the podium.