Sevens Rugby at the Commonwealth Games is one of the sport’s premier events, with the short form of rugby taking place in the last four Games, beginning in Kuala Lumpur in 1998.
However, competing on the world stage is no new challenge for senior England sevens player James Rodwell, who brings a vast amount of experience to the Commonwealth squad having competed at the Delhi Games in 2010.
Rodwell, who has taken part in 52 IRB sevens events for his country is one of the central figures in the England sevens squad for the last few years, earning the title of the most capped England sevens forward of all time.
A graduate in Business Commerce at the University of Birmingham, he began playing at the age of seven at Tring RFC, his local club, and Berkhamsted School from the age of ten, where he featured at centre and full back.
James made his England Sevens debut against the United States at Dubai in 2008 and since then has gone from strength to strength in an England jersey, winning the London Sevens in 2009, the New Zealand 7’s in 2009 and 2013, Dubai 7’s 2010 and 2011, and was named the 2010 Player of the Tournament at the Dubai 7’s.
Ahead of the Glasgow Games this July James and his England side had the chance to see their squad in competitive action one last time before the 26th of July at the Sevens and the City festival.
Run by Saracens Matt Stevens and David Strettle, the inaugural tournament was held at their home ground, Allianz Park, boasting a number of rugby tournaments with the highlight being the men’s international.
Within two groups of four on the day were Scotland, Wales, Barbados and Papua New Guinea, amongst others, alongside England.
With the importance of the tournament already being iterated by England Head Coach Simon Amor, Talking Rugby Union’s Austin Halewood spoke to James about the significance of this final chance to play competitively and the Games themselves.
“We are finding the tournament really good fun,” James began, “a lot of people have turned out today and for the first year of a tournament it’s pretty special to be fair.
“Strets and Matt Stevens have done really well getting the promotions out there and a lot of people have turned up to have a bit of fun.”
As previously mentioned, for the first year of a tournament, there are a number of fantastic teams taking part in the day’s events and James was himself very impressed with the standard.
“Coming so close to the Commonwealth Games its good preparation for us to get a last hit out before we head up to Glasgow next week.
“It’s great to play against different opposition, which adds a bit extra than playing against your own defence in training.”
Following on from the words of Coach Simon Amor, James also reiterated the importance of the Sevens and the City.
“For us it’s that final preparation before the Games. We’ve been looking at a few new plays and it’s a chance to try them out against a different opposition.
“It’s really all about fine tuning now before the big event at the end of the month.”
Finally, James was confident about England’s chances in Glasgow.
“We definitely think we have the squad to go all the way,” James said confidently, “I don’t think any of us would be playing the game if we didn’t believe in ourselves.
“As I’ve said we have put a lot of work in on the training field and we’ve had some great matches against the top sides in the world this season.
“We’ve come out on top in a few and then lost a few others. We know we’ve got the ability to put in the right performance and then come out on top.”
Make sure you stay tuned to Talking Rugby Union in the build up to and throughout the Games as we will be bringing you all the best insight, interviews, reaction and analysis from the Commonwealth Sevens.