A stunning total of 15 tries in the opening two rounds of the 2016/17 HSBC World Sevens Series in Dubai and Cape Town swept Dan Norton to an individual England career try-scoring record of 225, five more than Ben Gollings. It increased his overall points’ total to 1,139 in 59 events. Four more tries in Wellington in January and another four in Sydney took him towards 261 tries and 1,319 points in 67 events. He is the leading all-time try-scorer in the World Series with 17 more than Kenya’s Collins Injera.
Last February in Sydney, Dan overtook the 230 scored by Santiago Gomez Cora, now Argentina’s head coach and was Player of the Final when England took the gold medal in Vancouver this March. He was the second highest try-scorer in the 2016/17 World Series with 51, six fewer than Perry Baker ran in for the USA.
He also won four DHL Impact Player awards during the season, including one at Twickenham in the final round in which he scored a stunning solo try against Scotland and England took the Silver Medal to secure second place in the series.
Dan followed his nine tries in Dubai last December with another six in Cape Town the following weekend and scooped the DHL award in both tournaments. In Dubai, he made 14 tackles, six breaks, five offloads and 20 carries and when England won the gold medal in Cape Town, he racked up 19 tackles, eight breaks, 25 carries and five offloads.
Not only that, he scored the breathtaking, long-range try in extra time that gave his side a 31-26 win over Olympic champions Fiji in the Cup quarter-final. His long-term excellence dates back to 2012/13 when he was the top touchdown maker in the World Series with 52 and in May 2015 he was given the accolade of leading out the England team at Twickenham against Kenya to mark his half-century of tournaments.
He has almost systematically overtaken other prolific England try-scorers Richard Haughton (106), Rob Thirlby (101) and former captain Simon Amor (71), now the England Sevens head coach.
Dan was also the joint fourth-leading try-scorer with five in the RWC Sevens at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow in June 2013. They included both England touchdowns when Kenya were beaten 12-5 in the semi-final.
He celebrated his 24th birthday in 2013 on the eve of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens. In 2011-12, he was second-leading Series scorer with 37 behind teammate Mat Turner (38), who had set an England record. Being the third highest try-scorer overall with 32 in the 2010-11 HSBC Sevens World Series was only part of the ongoing success story of Dan, who joined Bristol Rugby in the summer of 2009 after two years with Gloucester, his home city club.
His Sevens success dates back to a triumphant debut in Wellington in February 2009 and he has shown an intuitive knack of popping up with a vital score. None more so than when bagging the winning try in England’s success over New Zealand in the final of the 2009 Emirates Airlines London Sevens.
A product of Hartpury College, he was previously educated at Brockworth Enterprise and began playing when eight at Spartans RFC. Dan represented Gloucestershire U16 and U18, South West U18 and became a member of the England U20 Grand Slam winning side.
Most of his two years with Gloucester were spent on loan to Moseley, where he made an impact by helping to turn the side from underdogs to “thunder-dogs”. He contributed a try as the side produced one of the shock results of the 2008-09 season with a 23-18 win over Yorkshire Carnegie in the EDF National Trophy final at Twickenham.
It was a proud day for his mentors, dad Aubrey and Hartpury coach Allan Lewis, who Dan says has improved his game and helped him to understand it more. Tries continued to roll in. Before the 2009 HSBC Sevens World Series began in Dubai, he was even the leading scorer in the Greene King IPA Championship.
In May last year, he was included in the 25-strong Great Britain training squad for the Rio Olympic Games in which he went on to score four tries. His touchdown in the semi-final, together with Tom Mitchell’s conversion, beat South Africa 7-5 to ensure that Team GB would win a medal and he also ran in England’s try in the defeat by Fiji in the final.
Last updated: 24 May 2017