- Squad announced for Las Vegas sevens - more
- Las Vegas sevens runs from 2-4 March
As England Sevens prepare for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Las Vegas, USA this weekend Ruaridh McConnochie 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?
“The first time I played was for my junior school and I think I played in the Ashdown House sevens tournament in Kent when I was about 10 years old.
“We won it actually, but it was definitely the first time I’d ever played or heard of it. We went in and played like we were playing 15s where we must’ve covered only about 20 metres of the pitch."
Can you describe your route into England sevens?
“When I was at school, I wasn’t really a stand out player until my last year but even then I would say I was just a good player.
“I then went over to New Zealand for a year where I did teaching, but I played sevens for my club team where there were three ex-New Zealand sevens players so I learnt quite a lot off that.
“I came back to England and went through the University of Gloucestershire, played a bit of sevens there, but mostly just 15s, and then through England Students got a trial for GB Sevens Students and we went to Brazil and actually ended up winning.
“I got a call from Simon Amor a couple of weeks later saying that they’d love to have me for a one week trial, I stayed for six weeks and then signed on later that year in 2015.”
What do you enjoy most about the sport?
“A lot of people say the open space but that can also be the worst part that you have to cover that as well.
“I’d say more the team environment as we travel around the world 10 or 11 times a year in just a squad of 12, but throughout the year there will be 18 to 20 used in the squad.
"You’re a close knit bunch, we all get on well and we know it because we’re all so excited to get out to the venues.”
How would you sell the game to someone new?
“The easiest way of describing the feeling I guess is just run until you can’t run anymore, and then you realise you’ve got to keep running after that.
“It’s a shorter form of the game but nothing changes in terms of pitch size, it just means you have to cover more space as a player, run more than you would in 15s.
“There are smaller breaks which again puts that massive emphasis on your fitness.
“We follow the sun so we go around the world and make sure we get to all the hot countries that we can and stay out of the British winter. It’s a great spectator game, there are always loads of points and a great festival atmosphere at the tournaments.”
What’s the most memorable game you’ve ever played in?
“I think it was actually Twickenham in 2017. It helped that we played so well as a team, yeah we didn’t win it, but if you look at the team that we had by the end of the final, I think there were four players playing out of place. There were two guys were playing full games and they’d only been back in training three weeks, so their fitness levels were nowhere near World Series standard.
“It’s that ability to, yes, being able to play in front of your home fans, but it’s more important to me to be able to play in front of my family, friends and people who helped me to get to where I am now.
“I always make a point of before we go in after every game giving a wave to my family where I know they’re sitting. It’s just awesome to be able to share my experiences with them at that time instead of them getting up at 3 am to watch us in some foreign country."