England ultimately lost in the final of the Exeter leg of the Rugby Europe Grand Prix 7s Series but captain James Rodwell claims the successful blending of youth and experience bodes well for the future.
Having swept aside all before them to reach the Cup final, Rodwell and co went down 14-5 to an in-form France side.
That victory meant Les Bleus completed a clean sweep of European series events having already been victorious in Moscow and Lyon.
After using the previous two events as a proving ground for some talented youngsters, England brought a number of senior heads back into the squad at Sandy Park and Rodwell is adamant the improvement throughout the weekend was tangible.
“We got better over the weekend – it’s difficult when you’re playing with someone for the first time but we did well,” said Rodwell.
“You get more used to each other and we’ve got plenty of time before the World Series begins again now.
“Everyone was great this weekend – I don’t want to single anyone out because it was a team effort.
“We mixed and matched the team with a lot of different combinations and that’s what it was about for us – a development tool.
“There are loads of positives – we came with a lot of new faces and I was really pleased they got stuck in and mixed in well.
“They stuck to our team principles and there is a lot of potential although still some work to do. We’ll move on to the World Series but we’ve got a nice pre-season for that.”
After a cagey opening in the final, Manoel Dall Igna and Steeve Barry crossed for France as they established what would prove to be an unassailable 14-0 lead.
Ruaridh McConnochie did round out his impressive weekend with another try, after Rodwell won the ball at the breakdown, to close the gap to 14-5 but that was as good as it got for the hosts.
However, Rodwell insists his side have no regrets and that the weekend served as a great learning experience for the younger members of the squad.
“It was a tough game out there – France are a really good team at the moment and have been on form for the whole of the European Series,” he added.
“I was really proud of the boys this weekend – it was tough on the lungs because a lot of us haven’t played since May but we stuck to it and I was proud of how we applied ourselves.
“We’ll take a lot of confidence from this weekend – not only does it give you a little bit of fitness heading into pre-season but it was good to see how the boys fared in an international competition.
“We’ve know they’ve got the potential but playing against different attacks and defences under pressure is what you need to take you to the next level.”
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