ENGLAND Sevens captain Ben Gollings insists his side are desperate to showcase their rapid improvement in front of a passionate home crowd at Twickenham on Saturday.
Last season England were knocked out at the quarter-final stage in the home leg of the HSBC World Series, capping what was a largely disappointing season.
This time around, however, Gollings will spearhead a young, settled side – augmented by surprise call-up Steffon Armitage – at rugby headquarters, and one which is still in with a chance of overhauling New Zealand at the head of the World Series table.
“It’s a long hard season away from home and it’s great to get to this stage and still be in with a chance of winning something,” the Cornishman told City A.M. “Last year we didn’t do ourselves justice at Twickenham or throughout the season. But this year we’ve reached four finals and, although we’ve only won one, it’d be great to show the fans just how far we’ve come in a short space of time.”
With Sevens due to become an Olympic sport from 2016, Gollings – the world record points scorer in international Sevens with 2,590 – is encouraging peers to focus strictly on the shortened format of the game in the hope of a gold medal.
“The Olympic status has changed the dimensions of the sport,” he said. “Now we are seeing more and more full-time Sevens players. Boys have got to give their full attention to it because it takes a very specific type of conditioning.”
Gollings will be past his prime by the time the Rio Games arrive, but has set his sights on breaking the 3,000-point barrier before bowing out of a sport in which he made his international debut 11 years ago.
He says: “A lot of sportsmen profess not to look at personal milestones, but I do look at goals individually. Originally I looked at getting the world record. I reached that target and now I guess I’d love to break the 3,000 point barrier, that would be a pretty cool landmark.”
You can watch England Sevens in action and join the beach party on 21 and 22 May at Twickenham Stadium in the Emirates Airline London Sevens, the penultimate leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series. Tickets are available from £15 for adults and £5 for juniors via rfu.com/londonsevens