For all rugby-loving youngsters growing up in England, getting the chance to play at Twickenham Stadium in front of family and friends is a dream and certainly something to be ticked off the bucket list.
This weekend - 28 and 29 May - a number of up-and-coming players will get to do just that as part of the England squad that will be taking part in the men’s HSBC London Sevens which is the penultimate HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series event for 2022.
One for family and friends
And the excitement is not just being felt by those players, but by the more experienced members of the England squad because this event has not been held at the home of English rugby since May 2019.
“This week is always a big one for England players, and that is especially the case this time around given the way the last few years have been with the pandemic and the like,” England captain Alex Davis said.
“I missed playing in 2019 at Twickenham because of injury, so the last time I played there was in 2018 and I know a lot of the newer members of our squad have never played there in a World Rugby Sevens Series event yet.
“Usually when we are playing in stadiums around the world there are always a few England supporters and they always support us brilliantly, but it is a different thing when the majority of people in the ground are cheering you on and friends and family also have the chance to be there in the flesh to watch you.
“Sometimes the extra hype around an event like this can be a distraction, but what I will be saying to the boys this week is ‘let’s embrace and enjoy playing at home’.
“Very few people ever get the chance to run out at Twickenham in a showpiece tournament, so I think the boys will rise to that challenge, play with smiles on our faces and put in some good performances.”
The England squad head into the London Sevens off the back of a sixth-place finish at the HSBC France Sevens in Toulouse this past weekend.
It means that head coach Tony Roques’ men sit eighth in the overall standings (on 63 points) after seven events of nine with this weekend and then the Los Angeles Sevens in the USA on 27 and 28 August to come.
On day one in Toulouse, England defeated Canada and Japan in pool games before losing out to Argentina in their third pool match on day two.
That set them up for a Cup quarter-final with Samoa which was a game that went all the way.
England scored tries through Will Homer, Davis himself, Freddie Roddick and Max Clementson, but three conversions to two from Samoa meant that they squeezed home 26-24.
England dusted themselves down to defeat USA 29-14 on day three in the fifth place semi-final before losing out to Argentina 21-12 in the fifth-place play-off.
Big steps forward
So, how did 29-year-old Davis reflect on the performance as they picked up 12 points in the Stade Ernest-Wallon?
“Generally, on the whole, I think we made some big steps forward in Toulouse,” he states.
“A big focus for us leading into the event was making it out of the pool and into the Cup quarter-final stage and we managed to do that, but once we got there we would have liked to have gone even further.
“It was really disappointing to not quite get over the line against Samoa, it felt like it was a missed opportunity, but they have been playing some good sevens of late and not quite being able to get over the line in a big game like that is probably just a reflection of where this evolving playing group are at the moment.
“That game showed us that you have to take your big opportunities when they come along, but on the flipside, the guys will have learnt so much from just being in that position and the development of our younger players – on and off the pitch – since the start of the circuit really has been great to see.
“I want them all to believe in their abilities and express themselves this coming weekend and with a Commonwealth Games also on the horizon this summer in Birmingham these are exciting times to be a sevens player in England.”
In the pool phase at the London Sevens, England will be going up against Samoa, Scotland and Japan.