Simon Amor couldn’t have been prouder of his England charges after rallying to clinch bronze in the HSBC Sevens World Series opener in Dubai.
Defeat to New Zealand in the semi-final had spelled trouble for the England team but the resilience shone through when it mattered most, defeating Olympic champions Fiji in the bronze-medal play-off.
It was to be a thriller with a 28-21 final score, though it was the effort and determination that pleased head coach Amor the most – even if he knows there is more work to do on the training ground.
“As a first tournament for us this season I’m really proud of the continuous effort and the attitude the boys displayed in every single game,” he said.
“We didn’t quite get our decision-making right in terms of our attack – particularly in the New Zealand game where we had some chances but didn’t quite take those opportunities – but those are the margins at the top level now.
“If we can learn from that and keep on growing then we’ll be in a good place to really kick on for the rest of the season.
“I’m also really proud of the effort in the last play situation against Australia, especially of Harry Glover who’s a student at Newcastle University.
“This demonstrates the pathway we’re creating within the England Sevens programme and a big thank you must go to Newcastle for releasing Harry for this tournament."
England had opened the day with victory over Australia through Glover’s try with the final play of the game, though the rub of the green eluded them in the 14-5 defeat to New Zealand.
They were to bounce back in style though as Tom Bowen’s kick and burst of energy put them ahead within a minute in their final match against Fiji, the first of five tries scored before the break.
Two of those were to go Fiji’s way as they wrestled the lead, though Phil Burgess and replacement Tom Mitchell had Amor’s side 21-14 up with seven minutes to go.
Bowen scored his second try while Fiji rallied late, though it wasn’t enough to stop England taking bronze in Dubai.
Attentions now turn to South Africa for round two of the Sevens World Series, with less than a week’s recovery time before they do it all again in Cape Town.
“It’s pretty evident looking at the games this tournament that the competition has gone up a level since last year – especially in the intensity, the running and the physicality,” Amor added.
“Next week will be very much about resting, recovering and getting the guys back into physical shape to compete in a tournament they thrived in last year.”