IRB Sevens World Series
'It's all about getting over the final hurdle'
May 9, 2014
England Sevens captain Tom Mitchell stands alongside his monster alter ego © RFU
England Sevens captain Tom Mitchell is hoping to end a remarkable season with a tournament win at the London Sevens this weekend.
Mitchell has excelled this season and currently sits top of the IRB Sevens World Series points chart with 310, a total helped by the 27 tries he scored on the circuit this term. While England have achieved six top four finishes this season, a tournament win has evaded them and this is what Mitchell is targeting at Twickenham in the final leg of the campaign.
"It's been a good season for us, in a lot of respects, we have improved as the season has gone on," Mitchell told ESPN. "We've come a long way since the start of the season so it's all about getting over the final hurdle at Twickenham this weekend. We've said as a squad we want to win a tournament this season as we know we are good enough.
"It's about nailing down all of the different parts of our game and putting them into one tournament and what an amazing tournament it would be in London this weekend. Everyone will be trying their hardest to get that result this weekend knowing we have come a long way this season."
It was a tough start to the campaign for England as Simon Amor arrived fairly late into the role of head coach and captain Rob Vickerman announced he was leaving the programme after the third leg of the series in South Africa. Mitchell took up the captaincy from the Las Vegas leg onwards and believes it is only a matter of time until England are challenging the likes of New Zealand and South Africa for the overall series title.
"We have shown over the course of this season that we are improving and it's just a bit of time until we get to where we need to be. It wasn't ideal circumstances at the start of the season with Simon coming in late but we have finished strongly."
For Mitchell the rise has been rapid as he has only had a full-time Sevens contract for two seasons, after being spotted by Ben Ryan while he was playing for the England Students side, but he is fully enjoying the experience. "I feel very lucky being where I am at the moment. This is my third London Sevens and as I missed much of last year, this is my first full season with England Sevens. It's a different life from my time at University, but it's one I am ready to live. It's been quite a surreal journey through the sport but one I've enjoyed."
And the "surreal journey" could end up with Mitchell winning the sport's biggest individual honour. His form has not gone unnoticed and he is up for the IRB Sevens Player of the Year award with Tim Mikkelson, Kyle Brown and Samisoni Viriviri completing the four-man shortlist. "It's really nice to be nominated for that and it's nice to be listed alongside those names. It was a very proud for me especially as it was voted for by people in the game. But I've been fortunate to play a full season, stay injury free, and play as part of a strong squad".
Life on the Sevens circuit is not restricted to just the IRB Series and after Twickenham's event this weekend, focus will turn to the 2014 Commonwealth Games for Mitchell. "We'll have a short rest after Saturday and then it's all about the Commonwealths. It'll be a great occasion, what with the chance to mingle with the other athletes, and to represent England up in Scotland will be an amazing opportunity for everyone who is involved."
See the final action and experience the family fun on Sunday with tickets available here until 12 noon on Friday or from Twickenham ticket office on the day.
On duty back in 2013 © Getty Images
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Tom Hamilton is the Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.