- England playing in Hamilton Sevens this weekend
- How England Sevens have full integration - video
It's the fourth leg of HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Hamilton, New Zealand this weekend and one of England's longest serving players, Dan Bibby, reveals his journey into the sport and some of his favourite memories during that time.
What do you remember about the first time you played sevens?
"It was at Kirkham Grammar School. I remember doing the 15s season when I was in lower sixth and a few of the older boys were saying I should be in the sevens side, so I was really worried that I wouldn't get picked.
"I remember having never played it before thinking how much fun it was and then also thinking 'oh my god this is so hard.' I've got some really good memories from schoolboy level as luckily we had some decent players like Richard de Carpentier who I'm still playing with now, Kieran Marmion who has a few Ireland caps, Kieran Brookes who back in the day was probably a few stone less but was actually really quick. We were blessed with some real talent."
Can you describe your route into England sevens?
"I went to Cardiff Metropolitan University and in my second year we played in the BUCS final at Twickenham where it was us versus Durham, and I managed to play alright. Luckily there were a few Sale Sharks scouts watching and I got asked to go down for pre-season.
"I played in the JP Morgan Sevens and I played pretty well where I scored two hat-tricks and I got man of the tournament, and after that I had to go back to university where I had one year left.
"Ben Ryan had been watching the sevens and a couple of weeks later he asked me to do a bit of training. So I was at uni trying to do my dissertation, my lectures, coming to the Lensbury three days a week and then sometimes driving back up to Sale to do a session, so it was pretty mental. I was pretty much away my whole third year of university but I loved it and without it I wouldn't be where I am today.
"At the end of the year there was a toss up of do I go to Sale or the sevens and I'm glad I made the right decision as I've been playing for six years now."
What do you enjoy most about the sport?
"Looking at me I'm not exactly the biggest bloke so that's one of the main things, as now a lot of the 15s teams are looking for size and I think a lot of them don't have to have much skill, that's no disrespect to any of them as they're good at what they do, but I think they're looking for the bigger lads.
"With me not being one of them I probably wouldn't have done as well in 15s, but guys who are smaller, nippier, quicker, who have a lot more skill are better suited to sevens.
"Personally I just think it is a lot more exciting, especially when you're getting to the depths of winter and if you are watching a 15s game on an evening and it's chucking it down with rain, freezing cold and I know I'd rather be out in Dubai or New Zealand playing a bit of sevens and scoring a few tries."
How would you sell the game to someone new?
"You can be any shape and size, I know that's the same throughout rugby, but for the smaller guys you can still play sevens at an international level.
"You just get to put your skills on show a lot more often. You get your hands on the ball more so you're attacking more, creating more and you get to a deep, dark place where you can't think, you can't see as you're that tired where you think you can't take another step, but then you've got to throw that 20-30 metre pass for someone to score - it is the challenge of that as well."
What’s the most memorable game you’ve ever played in?
"I want to say the Olympics and scoring the try in the quarter-final in terms of probably my best memory and having that feeling of it being surreal, but I didn't actually play that well in that game.
"I'd probably go back to playing for Kirkham and we were playing Sedbergh who were like local northern rivals, we always had good games against them. I think we were playing them in a cup game and it went into extra-time as it was 12-12 or something but we ended up winning and it was one of my first tournaments and thinking how big it was, as not many Kirkham teams beat them."