Chris Cracknell Column
Failure to launch
England Sevens' Chris Cracknell
March 29, 2013
England recovered from their early Cup exit in Hong Kong to take the Bowl title © Getty Images
I think we can all agree there were certainly a few upsets in Hong Kong last weekend - unless you're one of those who enjoyed the Ollie Phillips man rug on show on TV all weekend!
Fiji were once again mercurial at the Hong Kong Stadium where their national hero Waisale Serevi received much deserved praise for his induction in to the IRB Hall of Fame. They certainly put on a performance for the crowd and their comeback to beat Wales in the final was nothing less than majestic.
That is not meant to belittle Wales' fine performance over the course of the three days because reaching a first ever Cup final is certainly a credit to coach Paul John and the young lads in his squad who fought tirelessly throughout and looked far more experienced than their years.
Now on to England. Losses to Samoa and Scotland certainly weren't in the plan and especially not the nature of our defeats having spent so many weeks practising restarts. Ben Ryan, Russell Earnshaw and Jon Callard left no stone left unturned in that department but we failed to execute on the pitch and went out of the cup competition.
Not having the ball in sevens makes the game impossible to win but thankfully a switch was clearly flicked following our loss to Scotland. We started playing to our capabilities with Dan Norton's electrifying pace and John Brake leading from the front by tackling everything that moved and running himself silly. It was good to see us racking up good scores against France and South Africa and for some good 'contagious behaviour' to take hold of the team.
The real test will now come in Tokyo this weekend. It's not as popular as Hong Kong, yet, so we won't have the massive expat support that we get in Hong Kong and our draw is once again a tough one. But the main reason we play sport is to test ourselves - and let's face it, you have to beat everyone to call yourself a true champion.
Back in Blighty, it's still incredibly cold, but all the injured guys are all still striving for success to put ourselves back in contention for the last two tournaments of the season. For Tom Mitchell and Mark Odejobi that's about running pain-free, and for myself and Ollie Phillips it's about testing ourselves with our new love of boxing. Don't worry, neither of us wants to be the next SBW (actually, Ollie does but keep that quiet...) but it's all going on to be back out there for the season's last two legs.
No doubt by now the boys in Tokyo will be putting the final bits together for the weekend. I'm sure that the pain of last Friday night lingers but I am sure Ben and the management team are reminding all the players about how we played on the final day in Hong Kong. That should result in some hungry Englishmen striving for success this weekend.
I'll be getting up at silly o'clock to watch. Who's with me?
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