February 17, 2012
Chris Cracknell on the charge against Brazil © Getty Images
England's trip to Sin City has come and gone and for the foreseeable future we have jet-lagged days and nights to look forward to haunted by the demons of a unsatisfactory weekend on the field.
While most of you were wondering whether it would be ice or snow you'd be scraping of your car during the night, England were in Las Vegas preparing for the USA Sevens in the middle of the Nevada desert.
Our preparation was okay despite the jet lag and getting over the knocks sustained in Wellington, where we finished in third place. We used the facilities at the Sam Boyd Stadium, the University of Nevada Las Vegas gym and 4G rubber crumb pitch for our team run at the end of the week.
With everything in place and a pretty good day one with wins against Scotland and Brazil under our belts, I don't think anyone could have predicted what was going to happen next.
Our draw to a very good Kenyan team followed by a fourth defeat against New Zealand this season and another against Argentina left a bitter taste in everyone's mouths on the long flight home.
Unfortunately for us, we gave away too much possession against Kenya. With their eighth man behind them (it seemed like all of Nairobi was in the stadium on Saturday morning) they took full advantage and it was only through a fantastic solo effort from Tom Mitchell that we managed to draw the game.
The quarter final against New Zealand was a pretty hard game to stomach given we had three or four clear chances to kill off the game. We failed to capitalise on them and Gordon Tietjens men didn't panic, snuffed out our chances and went on to reach the final - losing in extra time to a Samoan team who were very strong on the narrow Vegas pitch with human wrecking ball Alafoti Faosiliva crashing over to secure their first title of the season.
We went on to lose to Argentina in the Plate semi final - with two early scores from them too much for us to recover from. This was despite our efforts and a try from yours truly (from a record distance - I'm normally deadly only from a metre out) in the final play of the game it ended up a pretty poor showing from us in Vegas.
The way results panned out, we're now fourth in the HSBC Sevens World Series and 18 points behind New Zealand with four tournaments left - a wide margin when you consider how little there is to choose between our two teams on the pitch.
As I write we now have 27 days until we leave for Hong Kong. Any rugby player will tell you it is one of the highlights of your career to represent their country at one of the most famous rugby events in the world.
That 27 days is not long at all and we have a lot of hard work on and off the pitch with a few home truths to be shared. So on Monday, we will be back in and the guys who weren't picked for the last two legs will want to put themselves in the front of Ben Ryan's mind for selection.
For me, now it's time to turn into a domestic king, unpack, wash everything and adjust to not living in a hotel. That includes cooking for myself for the first time in three weeks, so it's beans on toast for dinner!
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