- England in Cape Town on 9-10 December
- Norton is the world's leading sevens try scorer
Ahead of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Cape Town on 9-10 December, the sport's all-time leading try scorer, England Sevens wing Dan Norton, reveals his journey to representing his country.
What do you remember about the first time you played sevens?
“It was at Hartpury College in my first year there at 16 or 17. I hadn’t really played that season at 15s and I had an opportunity to play some sevens so I was quite excited.
"it was a tournament in Gloucester with a few of the different schools and colleges, and I don’t think we won it but it was a nice experience of sevens. I enjoyed the fact that there was quite a lot of space, it was an end to end game, as no one kind of knew what they were doing at the time, and the hard work element was a massive factor.
“The opportunity to play sevens was a bit different on a field that suited me in the sense that there is less players, with more time and more space which is what drew me in.”
Can you describe your route into England sevens?
“From college I was in and around the Gloucester academy so I played one or two Middlesex 7s where you’d go down for the day at Twickenham, it was awesome. It was my first taste of sevens at a high level and then when I was 18, I think, but I loved it.
"I played a few minutes, not very much and I was just on and off. I played with Pete Richards and a few other Gloucester stars as well. Then I got asked by Ben Ryan to come down and to train with the sevens which was cool. I moved into the sevens programme and training while I was on loan at Moseley at the time, I played a bit of England Under 20s and I was just doing bits here and there.
“From that I got a spot in one of the tournaments in 2009. I remember being asked and getting an email and a letter and thinking it was ridiculous.”
What do you enjoy most about the sport?
"I remember watching the Leicester-Northampton game which is obviously a big, high energy game with lots of box kicks and the winger doesn't really get much ball and that was what it was like when I was playing 15s where I didn’t get much ball come the middle part of the year.
“We go around the world and play in these amazing climates, incredible stadiums and then obviously later on when we got the chance to play in the Olympics that drew me into the game and kept me wanting to succeed and stay in it as long as possible.”
How would you sell the game to someone new?
“It’s an amazing atmosphere. The opportunity to watch rugby and a high level sport is incredible but you have the chance to watch it and your attention span is refreshed because there are constantly games coming in, you’re able to choose what you want. "There’s also an incredible skill level from players."
"There is constant action happening which is probably the best bit about it. There’s also an incredible skill level from players demonstrating speed, power, fitness, finesse, there’s always an amazing X-factor throughout, so there’s a combination for enjoying an amazing atmosphere, some high calibre, incredible rugby, so it’s an amazing balance to be honest.”
What’s the most memorable game you’ve ever played in?
“We’ve had some amazing memories playing with the sevens, we’ve won tournaments, I was lucky enough to be selected for the Olympics.
“But for me, it’s probably my third tournament I was playing at London 7s in 2009. I didn’t play much of the tournament at all, but I came on in the final against New Zealand and we were down 19-5 I think it was. We clawed a try back and I got told I was going on with two minutes to go, thankfully I was able to get a try in the corner to take us to extra time.
“We were able to scrap and fight after coming from behind and we got the win in the corner so that was an amazing feeling to be part of that. Having my dad there watching and my uncles watching at home was incredible when you look back on it."