- England start season in Dubai on 1 December
- Mitchell leads squad at HSBC World Rugby Sevens series opener
- First tournament always exciting - Amor
Ahead of the opening round of HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai on 1 December, captain of the England Sevens squad Tom Mitchell reveals his journey to representing his country.
What do you remember about the first time you played sevens?
"It would have been for my secondary school when I was 11 or 12.
"I always enjoyed playing sevens as we used to play it in the second term alongside playing football and it was always a bit more fun - I always enjoyed having a bit more space to run around in, that side of it attracted me to sevens.
"The stand out memories for school sevens was going to Rosslyn Park as that was the big tournament, not that we did very well but it was always a good day out and you knew you were getting the whole day off, which was great."
Can you describe your route into England sevens?
"I played at school and then at university, but the sevens I played at university was mostly for the BUCS sevens. "You’re going out to max yourself out which is a strangely an awesome feeling."
"I was playing representative stuff while I was still a student, so I played GB university sevens and then got called up to train with the England squad towards the end of my degree at Bristol, and following that, I played the European series with England, so I kind of came straight into it after university.
"I then had a bit of a break away from the squad as I went and did a post-graduate so for about four months I was training away from the squad, then I came back in and have basically been full-time since then whilst finishing that degree."
What do you enjoy most about the sport?
"There is a couple of different things. One is every time you go into a sevens game you’re going to have to work bloody hard and you’re going out to max yourself out which is a strangely an awesome feeling.
"The other thing is the freedom of the game with the space and the amount of time you get on the ball, it's a lot of fun with the opportunity to do different things to break down defences which is exciting.
"The bigger picture of the way the season runs where you go into tournaments knowing you’ve got to get it right for that weekend, peaking for those big tournaments and really exciting occasions."
How would you sell the game to someone new?
"First and foremost it’s about how much fun you can have just by running around on a field and throwing the ball around as you’ve got that extra space.
"It’s a fairly simple game, you haven’t got the complications of other sports and maybe 15s to some extent, so it’s a really nice introduction into rugby for people who don’t know a lot about it. The games are short so if you’re playing it, you play for 14 minutes and then you get a couple of hours off.
"The beauty about playing sevens tournaments as well is your team mates, having a good time meeting other teams, enjoying that kind of atmosphere and camaraderie that comes with doing a whole tournament."
What’s the most memorable game you’ve ever played in?
"The first tournament I ever won was probably the big one. It was in Tokyo in 2015 and it was a big game as not only was it the first time that I’d won a tournament and was captain, I scored a try in that final.
"A couple of things made it awesome but also the context of the season as we were fighting it out for Olympic qualification for GB. We managed to overtake Australia to get into that fourth spot and we maintained that for the rest of the season, so it was a big swing point in that season and a nice memory."