Fresh from breaking the World Rugby Sevens tournament appearance record, England Sevens’ most capped player James Rodwell looks back on record breaking career to date.
What does it mean to have broken the sevens tournament appearance record?
It is a huge honour for me to become the most capped rugby sevens player, I am hugely passionate about representing my country and to have worn the England shirt so many times has been really special.
I Wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of my family and especially my wife Amy who has been there from the beginning.
How do you look back at the three Commonwealth Games you’ve competed in for Team England?
Getting the chance to represent Team England was one of the main reasons I chose to pursue a career in rugby sevens, the opportunity to go to a multi-sport games was a real incentive.
Delhi was an amazing experience, I was a little overwhelmed by the scale of the event and unfortunately we just missed out on a medal finishing 4th.
Competing in Glasgow I was desperate for success and I probably put too much emphasis on that instead of enjoying the event as a whole and as time went on I thought that I would never make the podium at a commonwealth games.
I was fortunate enough to go to the Gold Coast and on the third attempt we managed to win bronze.
Where does your bronze medal from the last year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games rank among your sevens achievements?
Winning a medal is special and to have come so close in my previous two commonwealth games meant this is up there with my greatest achievements.
I had been struggling for form and it was a real challenge to make the squad to represent Team England out in the Gold Coast so to have come away with bronze made all the hard work even more satisfying.
How important was the experience of playing at the Delhi and Glasgow Commonwealth Games ahead of winning a silver medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics?
I think the experience of competing at the Commonwealth Games definitely aided my preparation for the Rio Olympics. Having tasted the multi-sport format of the Commonwealth Games put me in a great place to prepare mentally for what the Olympics would be like.
There are so many factors to consider in your preparation that can derail your performance if you are not ready for them compared to what we are used to on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
There are lots of distractions with the other sports and just the sheer scale of the games can be daunting, so having had the experience of the Commonwealth Games it gave me an insight into what it might be like.
How has sevens rugby changed since you made your debut in 2008?
I will try and keep this short! Since I became involved in rugby sevens the game has changed massively.
The speed of the game, the physical and mental demands have increased more than I would have imagined. The way teams are playing the game is ferocious now and we are seeing some incredibly tight games at every tournament.
One of the biggest changes has been the crowds and the support that we receive around the world. When I started the stadiums we were playing in were often half empty and now they have moved to different cities and bigger stadiums and the atmosphere has been amazing.
I think in Rio it was an opportunity for rugby sevens to show the world just how good a sport it is and hopefully it will stay within the Olympic movement for many years to come.