Time for the big one
March 21, 2012
The fans ensure a unique atmosphere at the Hong Kong Sevens © Getty Images
It's time for the big one. England started their build-up to Hong Kong with a quick hop (by our standards) of a ten-hour flight to Hong Kong. We were joined shortly afterwards by a second wave of reinforcements, including the wizard Isoa Damudamu, his sidekick John Brake and new boy Charlie Walker. Also flying in was Sam Edgerley, nicknamed "Dash" after the kid in The Incredibles, and he'll be taking part in his first HSBC Sevens World Series in Tokyo next week.
We headed to Cyberport and Le Meridien hotel, next to Hong Kong University, for the first five days before moving into the team hotel in the centre of Kowloon. It's straight into training on these trips, with a spin session and light weights to start. The route to the university is a kilometre up and down and it felt like Mount Everest on day one of training but the view of the sea all the way took the edge off a little. The more rotund members of our management used it as a fat burner every time we trained!
Getting here early has enabled us to get in some quality sessions and acclimatize to the heat and humidity. We also had two training games against Hong Kong and Spain, who are both competing in the tier-two competition for places on the World Series next year as full-time teams. Wish them both the best of luck over the weekend.
Hong Kong is by far the most famous sevens event. And the week surrounding it is chaotic and unique in so many ways, from the distractions off the pitch with markets, tours and shopping malls to the on-field training, media and corporate activity that surrounds this monumental event.
Put all that to one side and there is also the fact that we are lying fourth in the HSBC Sevens World Series, which isn't where we want to be. Being brutally honest, we have put ourselves that position. There have been many home truths told and some serious hard yards have been put in back in England by the squad and management respectively to make sure we are in the best shape and no stone is left unturned going into this weekend's three-day tournament.
After a good few days out in the peace and tranquility of Cyberport, we moved to the Marco Polo hotel in Kowloon (the dark side, so my friends out here tell me) and into the chaos. The reality has certainly kicked in about the event and the challenge before us this weekend, which starts with our Pool A games against Argentina, Kenya and Samoa.
Tuesday was a day off, though, and with my family out here supporting, I was able to enjoy a minor break from rugby, taking them to a few of my favorite places out here (including for coffee and to the beach) and switching off for a few hours. But now it's game-head on and no doubt a million miles per hour in to the weekend. Before we know it, we will be running out against Argentina on Friday night.
To everyone flying out or here already, I hope you enjoy the tournament and the chaos of the weekend, especially those brave or crazy enough to venture into the South Stand. If that's you, you might be reading my next installment with fond memories or no memories at all by this time next week!
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