With assets that include blistering pace and awareness of where gaps appear, Phil Burgess was a welcome addition to the England Sevens squad for 2013-14 from Cornish Pirates, the club he captained the previous season. He had initially played for Camberley and Harlequins before leading an outstanding Loughborough University side.
Phil, a back-row forward, had appeared for England U18, went on to captain England Students, joined the Pirates for 2010-11 and became a crowd favourite. The first of his 79 games was against Newport Gwent Dragons that August and he marked his final outing with a touchdown in the 28-24 win over Jersey in April 2013.
He scored 28 tries overall, including a hat-trick in a 53-21 home victory over Rotherham Titans in November 2012. None was more spectacular than a 50-metre blockbuster in the Championship semi-final at Bristol in the spring of that year. It helped to take the Pirates into their second successive Championship final against most predictions.
In December 2012, he sustained a fractured jaw in a match against Bedford Blues but still played in the game that followed against Nottingham. Born in Frimley, just as Jonny Wilkinson and Toby Flood were, and educated at Tomlinscote School, Phil has the speed to be pressed into service in the backs at 15-a-side level.
His maiden season at the Mennaye brought 12 tries and he said: “With me, the open-field stuff comes quite naturally but I have needed to work quite hard on other aspects. (Pirates head coach) Ian Davies helped me out. We reviewed a lot of games early on and we worked out how I could improve.”
Phil’s achievements include being selected for the Championship XV that met the Maori All Blacks at Castle Park, Doncaster in November 2012.
He went on to appear in England's FIRA/AER European GP Sevens Series victories in Lyon and Bucharest before new Head Coach Simon Amor called him up to make a first HSBC Sevens World Series appearance on the Gold Coast in October 2013. Phil scored two tries as the side took third place with a 47-0 win over South Africa and he ran in another three in the Dubai event the following month. In 32 events, he has taken his overall total to 53 tries, including four that helped England to become runners-up in the 2015 Dubai tournament. Four more tries as vice-captain followed for the injury-hit England team in Las Vegas in March last year. He completed a half-century of touchdowns with one in the quarter-final against Kenya in Singapore this April and led the side to Bronze Medal success in the absence through injury of Tom Mitchell. He added three tries as England took the Silver Medal in London this May.
Phil’s past try-scoring high spots include two in the Dubai tournament, another at Port Elizabeth, also in December 2014, three in Hong Kong the following March and two in Tokyo. They feature one against South Africa that covered the length of the field in the Japan final in April 2015. It took his side 21-7 ahead on the way to a 21-14 triumph.
In May last year, Phil was included in the 25-strong Great Britain training squad for the Rio Olympic Games and enhanced his reputation as a turnover expert with the instinctive ability to launch counter attacks.
Last updated: 24 May 2017