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Culture, tradition & fun: The lure of London Sevens

Fri, May 19, 2017, Posted by   print

2007 World Cup

From Cape Town to Vancouver, Sydney to the Stade Jean-Bouin in Paris, the World Rugby Sevens Series is the dream rugby sojourn.

But, as appealing as those places may be, it’s the lure of playing at Twickenham, rich in all its history that makes this weekend’s London Sevens such a highlight on the calendar for the players.

“Twickenham is just an amazing stadium,” Scotland Sevens captain Scott Riddell told ESPN.

“It really bears down on you and creates a real atmosphere. We [Scotland] don’t necessarily get the best reception, but it is nice to be on home soil even if it is south of the border.”

It’s not just the British who hold Twickenham in high regard either.

“London is definitely in my top three [tournaments],” South African skipper Phil Snyman said.

“A lot of South Africans live here and we get a lot of support, but also there’s a lot of rich culture and tradition in England Rugby. Twickenham is one of the best places to play the game.”

“People appreciate people who rip and tear so just make sure you commit that would be my tip.”

Sean Maloney

Cast your mind back 12 months ago and it was Scotland and South Africa who excelled on the hallowed turf, as the two sides contested one of the more brilliant finals in the history of the tournament since it began in 2001.

South Africa led Scotland 26-15 with less than a minute on the clock before Dougie Fife scored two tries in quick succession to guide the Dark Blues to their first Cup trophy on the World Sevens circuit.

“Definitely some fun memories from last year,” Riddell said.

“It was an incredible tournament for us, made our own wee bit of history. The manner of the win as well is what sticks with me, we were down and out as far as a lot of people were concerned and we just came back. It’s something that will sit with me for a long, long time.”

It was that result at the end of last season that lit the fuse for the South Africans.

So often a bridesmaid to the likes of Fiji and New Zealand, the Blitzboks have been unrelenting since the current season kicked off in Dubai back in December.

They’ve made a remarkable eight of nine finals and won five tournaments, with their triumph in Paris last week seeing them seal a first World Series since 2009 with the final stopover in London to spare.

Scotland claimed the London title last year with a thrilling final win over South Africa. Will they repeat that success this weekend? Jordan Mansfield – RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images

“I don’t think you can fault the guys [for not] being consistent,” Snyman quipped.

“It’s something that we’ve been working really hard on for the last couple of years. It’s not something that happened overnight, we have a very good squad with a mixture of experience and a lot of X-factor and I must also give a lot of credit to the management for giving us a perfect game plan.”

It’s not just the players who require a perfect game plan.

While the event organisers are heavily promoting a Food and Rugby Extravaganza this weekend with various trucks offering gourmet street food, Sevens remains synonymous with a carnival atmosphere as fans put in all sorts of effort to dress up.

“Go all in,” was Australian Sevens commentator Sean Maloney’s advice to those heading to Twickenham.

“People appreciate people who rip and tear so just make sure you commit — that would be my tip.

“I’ve seen absolutely everything. Underneath the South Stand in Hong Kong for example it’s just anarchy. It’s actually quite hard to describe how crazy it really is.

“It’s the perfect balance. You’ve got the party off the field and the party on, so this weekend is going to be unreal.”

Follow ESPN Scrum all weekend long for all the thrills and spills both on and off the field from Twickenham.

Source Article from http://www.espn.co.uk/rugby/story/_/id/19417485/culture-tradition-meets-fun-lure-world-rugby-seven-series-london-sevens

Culture, tradition & fun: The lure of London Sevens

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