In the men’s defeat to reigning Commonwealth and World champions New Zealand, England looked naïve in attack despite keeping the game scoreless for the first half. The experience New Zealand were able to bring on with the likes of 34-year-old veteran Scott Curry made a big difference after the break.
This difference in experience levels could be seen in how the Kiwis held tight to not concede despite good work from the likes of England’s 22-year-old Api Bavadra.
England captain Davis acknowledged lack of experience and the number of players contracted was an issue.
“It is tough. I know it is a cliche but you can only control what you can control – obviously those decisions are made by people other than us and we’re just trying to make the most of the position we are in and if that means we go into tournaments with eight guys on contracts, we do that and we bring in other guys. We can speak about the buy-in from everyone that has been outstanding. Obviously, we would love to have more contracts but that is just the reality.
“I am disappointed [with the results] but I think we did what we set out to do in terms of making New Zealand work. We just wanted to stay in the fight moment to moment and we did that,” said the 29-year-old.
“If you are looking at it objectively, losing two out of three pool games especially at a home tournament is far from ideal. Last night we talked about how we had 12 Commonwealth debuts yesterday [across the men’s and women’s sides] which is something we are hugely proud of but of course we would like to be in the quarterfinals and now we have the opportunity to learn and grow [in the placing matches].”
It feels as though England missed an opportunity to grow the game of sevens in front of a home crowd. New Zealand’s men performed well because of the continuity of their sevens specialists, but England do have talented players who could have been used with the likes of Bath’s Will Muir and Richard de Carpentier as well as Saracens up-and-comer and star of Tokyo Ben Harris.
Could something have been done to attract these players back in considering the occasion? Could senior players such as Dan Norton who retired earlier this year been persuaded for a special Birmingham swansong?
Regardless of the answers, the new Team GB set up that was announced this week should be looking to New Zealand for inspiration on how to run a successful sevens programme. It is sad because England had one for many years.
Commonwealth Games, day two – as it happened