- England squad named for Sydney - read
- How England Sevens have full integration - video
- My sevens journey: Amy Wilson Hardy - read
Ahead of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Sydney on 26-28 January, England Sevens' most capped player James Rodwell reveals his journey to representing his country.
What do you remember about the first time you played sevens?
“The first time I played was at school, it must have been Under 13s and it was very much end of the 15s season. It was a case of who wants to do it.
“I loved all sports so I thought I’d give it a go. Then at uni we had a tournament and they just picked people that were fit and quick.
“I never thought I’d be a professional rugby player so none of this was a journey I had planned or thought I wanted.
"When I got into 15s I got invited into a sevens camp at the end of a season after a full season in the Championship. I remember thinking sevens was pretty tiring but I came down, gave it a go and I haven’t been back."
Can you describe your route into England sevens?
“I went to the University of Birmingham and I trained for the whole first term but I didn’t get picked for any of the freshers teams and I was ready to quit, but my dad convinced me and said give it one more try.
“There was a bit of a link between the university and Moseley Rugby Club so I went and joined their Under 19s and had a season with them, ended up playing county and representing the Midlands so from there I went straight into the uni first team.
“I had a couple of years of that and I was close to the end of my degree and I was thinking about what I was going to do in the real world after a business degree. Moseley offered me a full-time role in their community team where you did 15 hours of community coaching a week at primary and secondary schools - that was great.
“I worked my way up into the first team at Moseley and then in 2008 I got offered to come to the sevens and try a training camp and get fitness tested.
“In 2010 they offered the first contracts for sevens around the Commonwealth Games in Delhi and I thought it was an amazing opportunity, but I had a clause in the contract that I could return to 15s if I didn’t enjoy being full-time with sevens and I haven’t looked back. I spent my last year of 15s training full-time at Worcester and playing at Moseley at the weekends, but the rest is history."
What do you enjoy most about the sport?
“The chance to represent my country is something that as a youngster growing up, whatever sport I played, I wanted to be an international in that, that is what I practiced in the garden all the time.
"I guess the freedom you get on a sevens pitch is much greater too. Although there is a structure, the responsibility is given much more to the players to make the right decisions on the pitch. So you fit within that structure but also express yourself and I think that’s a massive part."
How would you sell the game to someone new?
“I’d say come and watch sevens, it’s so easy to understand. There are a lot less people, the same size pitch, the action is really quick, it’s really exciting, there are loads of tries and very rarely do you have a time where you’re thinking ‘what happened there?’ "The action is really quick, it’s really exciting, there are loads of tries."
“After people watch it and talk to me about it and they’ll say ‘I see what you’re saying, it’s a great game but it looks hard' - I tell them it's very hard, but that’s the fun of it as well."
What’s the most memorable game you’ve ever played in?
“If I had to pick a moment of my career that stands out it would be playing in my 50th consecutive tournament in Hong Kong where my parents presented the jerseys to the team. I got to lead the team out in that first game and I managed to score in it as well."
“The Olympic Games though is the pinnacle of a sporting career in my opinion. To be able to represent Great Britain at that first game in Rio was pretty cool - the whole tournament will stay long in the memory.”