Sevens star Mitchell not fretting over Olympic qualification

29 March 2015 / 13:19

England Sevens captain Tom Mitchell insists his team will not crumble under the pressure of securing Olympic qualification.

England - who are tasked with earning Team GB their place at next summer's Games - are currently fifth in the World Series standings, with only the top four assured their place in the draw in Brazil.

They lost narrowly 14-12 to eventual winners Fiji at the iconic Hong Kong Sevens and then went down again to Australia, the fifth placed team in the standings, in the plate semi-finals. Top three South Africa, Fiji and New Zealand have all but guaranteed their spots for when the sport makes its Olympic debut next summer.

There are three legs of the World Series still to come - in Japan next week and then at Twickenham and Murrayfield - and Mitchell concedes the pressure is on, if England are to avoid having to make the Games via a second chance European qualifying tournament this summer.

"The Olympic qualification issue has been around all season, it's a massive honour for us to be qualifying team for Team GB," he said.

"We are just taking each tournament as it comes, we are making progress and working hard and we're confident that will carry us through to the Olympics."

Coach Simon Amor will take some positives from the performance in Hong Kong. But England paid the price for not topping their group, following a 21-21 draw with the USA, when they were drawn against sevens powerhouses Fiji in the last eight.

But they pushed the Pacific Islanders, who are coached by former England boss Ben Ryan, close with James Rodwell threatening to decisively score in the closing seconds.

"We were disappointed to go out at that stage of the tournament but we can take some positives from our performance against Fiji, who are absolutely flying at the moment and have just beaten a very good New Zealand team to win the title," added Mitchell.

"Those games against the top teams will always be close and sometimes you get the rub of the green and you come out the right side, this time we didn't. Everyone thought we were going to score at the end to win it, so it's a tough loss to take. 

"The ideal plan is always to top your pool. We should have done better against the USA but I thought we refreshed really well and hit Fiji hard."

England will take on Fiji again at next week's World Series event in Tokyo, when they've also been drawn to take on Wales and Hong Kong in the group stages.

"We know what we need to work on and we've a week to do that before Tokyo," added Mitchell.

"We need to do the right things. We've got a quick turnaround but we've shown we can mix it with the best. We love playing Fiji and we just want to get back out there now."

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