After an unbeaten first day England had one more pool game on Sunday morning against Georgia which they duly won 17-7 to book a semi-final place against Russia.
This was a game I was looking forward to, not because I was expecting a close game, but for the opportunity to watch the Russian coach on the touchline. I’m afraid I don’t know his name but I have heard that he is regarded as a legend in his home country. His antics on the touchline are wonderful as he passes, swerves and jumps as if he was on the field himself. When I get the chance I will upload a couple of videos I took of him over the weekend.
This was in contrast with the dead-pan expression of England coach for the tournament Joe Lydon, who sat in the stand with his stat man, only coming down to talk to the players at half-time and full-time. Joe was in charge as newly appointed Sevens coach Simon Amor had commitments with London Scottish to complete before joining the England setup full time.
Russia held England 14-14 at half-time but two second half tries put England into the final against France.
The final was England’s best performance of the weekend. Captain Tom Powell, formerly of Cambridge, continued his dominance of the restart leaping like a salmon to claim of half of his own side’s kick-offs putting France on the back foot for most of the game. Defensively England barely made a mistake and they were deserved 31-7 winners to win the Cup and claim the European Championship having also won in Lyon a few months earlier.
I went on to the pitch to congratulate the players and somehow ended up with one of the trophies to look after. Then, both Brian and I got involved in some team photographs, probably because we were two of only a handful of supporters who had travelled from the UK.
We were lucky enough to be invited to the post-tournament function at a downtown hotel where I sat with Tom Mitchell and Christian Lewis-Pratt. It was interesting to hear about their training and playing regime, their thoughts on Ben Ryan, Joe Lydon and Simon Amor, and their aspiration for the future for both themselves and England Sevens. I also spoke to them about Dan Norton who is a joy to watch when he is in full flight. They both agreed that whilst they can all sprint, Dan makes it look effortless. That isn’t to say that he doesn’t work as had on his training as the rest of the squad.
The England players left to continue their celebrations on the Old Town so we joined some of the FIRA committee, some of whom I know as they serve on their national committees too. Things seemed to be under control and on schedule for leaving at a reasonable hour until our Romanian hosts insisted we try Palinka, a local hooch distilled from plums. The evening deteriorated from there and I don’t remember an awful lot more before waking up in my hotel room the next morning.