England fans face early start as sevens hit land of the rising sun

NERVE-SHREDDING rugby did not end last weekend with Brian O’Driscoll and Ireland’s Six Nations triumph, as the HSBC Sevens World Series fires back into life on Saturday in Japan.

Now in its third year, the Tokyo Sevens paves the way for the main event of the calendar, the Hong Kong Sevens on 28 March, followed by the Scotland Sevens and the World Series finale, the London Marriott Sevens at Twickenham in May.

For those not lucky enough to be at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground on Saturday and Sunday, following the live action will involve dawn appointments with Sky Sports (although, mercifully, there will be highlights later on).

On show will be England speedsters Dan Norton, Marcus Watson and skipper Tom Mitchell, who has 18 tries this season, as well as stars such as Kenyan playmaker Collins Injera and 2014’s leading try-scorer, with 24, Samisoni Viriviri of Fiji.

At this point I must declare an interest: I’m from Heathrow Express and we are six months into a four-year partnership with England Rugby Sevens, currently fourth in the IRB World Sevens table behind New Zealand, South Africa and Fiji.

But as well as roaring on Mitchell’s men via our @hexrugby Twitter feed, we’re also cheering sevens rugby as a whole.

For as Britain’s smallest and best-rated (by customers) train company, it is encouraging to see relatively small players dominating sevens. None of the five men mentioned above weighs much more than 12 stone soaking wet – proof you don’t have to be the size of a van to achieve in rugby.

Our relationship with rugby goes deeper than this size comparison. Rugby fans are a 94 per cent demographic match for the people who use our service. Secondly, the speed and reliability required to succeed in sevens rugby are also needed in a successful rail-air link.

And so to Tokyo. England have a promising draw in Pool D with Australia, Scotland and Spain, all of whom they outrank in the IRB standings. Either set the alarm or the record button, because this year’s rugby is far from over.

Follow our rugby journey at @hexrugby