England's strong finish to the Rugby Sevens season culminated in a World Cup silver medal, filling head coach Simon Amor with hope for the future.
They took San Francisco by storm as clinical wins over Samoa, hosts USA and World Series winners South Africa earned them a place in the final.
Despite falling to reigning champions New Zealand 33-12 in the showpiece, Amor took pride having guided his side onto the podium in three of their last four tournaments.
“It’s disappointing to have missed out on top spot but I’m delighted with the way the guys performed right through the tournament,” said Amor, who also led Team GB to silver at Rio 2016.
“They came through some really close games and played some outstanding rugby.
“This marks the end of a very long year but I’m really pleased with the way that we’ve grown as a programme and how the players have grown as well.
“Since the Commonwealth Games we’ve medalled at every tournament bar one and we’ve got some really exciting talent coming in, so that’s really encouraging as we look ahead to next season.”
England’s Commonwealth bronze has produced a purple patch in the shape of second-placed finishes at the Singapore and Paris stages of the World Series.
The Red Rose sported six members of the GB outfit that secured Olympic silver two years ago, including captain Tom Mitchell, Phil Burgess, Dan Norton and James Rodwell.
The younger contingent also blossomed in front of weekend crowds of 102,000, 22-year-old Harry Glover awarded Breakthrough Player of the Tournament.
England beat Samoa 19-15 in the Round of 16, before Burgess’ dramatic late score led to a 24-19 triumph over USA.
A five-try romp against the Blitzboks was perhaps their most impressive display, as Mitchell, Norton, Glover, Ollie Lindsay-Hague and Ruaridh McConnochie all dotted down.
Despite tries from McConnochie and Mike Ellery, they could not avert a repeat of the 2013 World Cup – which also ended in defeat to New Zealand in the final.
This year’s tournament saw a shift to a full knockout format, a change Amor felt his team embraced.
He said: “The unique format makes it high-pressured with lots of drama which is great for all those fans watching.
“As a result of that you have to approach the competition in a different way and I’m really pleased with the way that the guys adapted to this new knockout competition.
“Playing in this new city and new venue has been brilliant – atmosphere in the stadium has been unbelievable right the way through the tournament and we’re really grateful for all those who supported us.”