February 8, 2012
Chris Cracknell on the charge against New Zealand © Getty Images
This week I can say I have got as close to time travel as is humanly possible, leaving Wellington, New Zealand, at 8.30am on Monday, February 6 and arriving in Los Angeles airport at, er, 6.35am on Monday, February 6.
That's right. Not only do we run around covering nearly 3.5km a game six times over a weekend, we Sevens folk also do a spot of time travel to get to the next destination and this week it is VEGAS! I'm pulling these words together overlooking the Strip as punters from all corners of the globe try to shake off their hangovers from the Superbowl at the weekend.
They've been added to by numerous egg-chasers wandering the chaotic main street in Vegas wondering if they have woken up in some parallel universe after the beautiful tranquillity we enjoyed on Sunday morning in Wellington Harbour nursing our bruised bodies after a weekend of doing battle.
Last week was a week of firsts for me. The first time I've not played in a final at the Westpac Stadium and the first time I've tried my hand at being a barista. Tom Powell and I beat the Scottish lads in a Calcutta Cup coffee-off down at Ben Cartwright's, Mojo café on the waterfront in Wellington. With a bit more practice, I think I've found my new hobby!
As I alluded to it was the first time for me not to make a final in Wellington. Our semi-final against New Zealand was worthy of being one and has to be one of the most exciting games I've ever played in, going to sudden death extra time before the impressive Frank Halai putting us to the sword in the end. We did at least get the better of Samoa for the first time this year in the third-place play-off.
The tournament also had a fair few surprises with Tonga and Canada showing the bigger nations they are forces to be reckoned with by both reaching the quarter finals.
However the weekend was not without its positives. Tom Mitchell won his first cap and scored his first try with his first touch of the ball (told you it was a weekend of firsts) and we also put in one of our most consistent "squad" performances that I have been a part off in my five years involved. Despite coming third, the boys can hold their heads high.
No rest for the wicked, though, or any chance to dwell on last week too much, as this week presents a new challenge in a three-day tournament in the desert of Vega,. Our pool matches are against old rivals Scotland, an unknown quantity in Brazil team and the ever-dangerous Kenya.
You're only as good as your last game and fortunately for us that was a win. But for the next set of opponents you're there to be knocked off your perch. For us it's about correcting the wrongs and getting ourselves mentally and physically in the right shape for each of the challenges that lie ahead of us this week.
The sport is growing rapidly in the USA and last year was a fantastically supported tournament, so we're hoping for more of the same this year out at the Sam Boyd Stadium. Hope to see some of you guys there over the weekend.
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