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Let the competitions begin!

19th March 2015
Our England Rugby Sevens star Natasha Brennan is now is tournament mode!

Well is has a been a little while since I have written my last blog due to the fact that the last month has been an extremely busy one; jam packed with training, travel, competition and extreme weather conditions!!

February saw a two week trip to Brazil for some warm weather training and the second leg of the Women’s World 7’s Series in San Paulo. Firstly it was amazing to have some warm weather training, as the week before we left, temperatures had dropped as low as minus 3, so to be in 30 degree sunshine and heat was heaven! Of course it wasn’t a holiday, so we were limited to exposure of sunlight outside of training to avoid getting sun burnt and dehydration.

The first week of our trip consisted of training which included warm games against Brazil and Argentina. These were a great opportunity for us to play some live games against different opposition which was really beneficial for us prior to the tournament, giving us a chance to work on the various aspects of our game. Training and playing at the Brazilian 7’s training base was also an interesting insight into how other nations operate and the sets up they use on a day to day basis.

Aside from the rugby we also had an opportunity to visit a school in San Paulo which was part of their legacy program towards the 2016 Rio Olympics, to encourage more children to play rugby. The experience was fantastic, and one that was humbling, having the opportunity to inspire kids from less privileged backgrounds to participate in a sport that isn’t widely recognised. A lot of the children spoke minimal English and no one in the team spoke Portuguese but it was great to see them enjoying the games that where being played; communicating through various methods of sign language and using translators to ask questions. The experience was a prime example of how sport and rugby specifically on this occasion can bring random groups of people together. It was a really awesome experience and one which was topped off with a trip to the British Embassy which was also a real insight to life in Brazil.

The second week of our trip saw us taper our training and, rest up and get ourselves ready for the most important part of the trip which was the actual tournament. We had a tough group with South Africa, Russia and Canada to contend with. 7’s is probably one of the toughest team sports around, the margins at elite level are extremely fine and it would be this tournament that we learnt as a team how crucial every single point and result can be. With a win against South Africa, and draw with Russia in the last play of the game and a loss against Canada it meant that Russia had the edge on us in point’s difference meaning they finish the pool 2nd which resulted in us finishing third and drawing Australia in the quarter finals on day two. With Australia being one of the top teams in the world at present it was a tough game and one they went on to win. It was a disappointing loss but one that we bounced back and eventually finishing 5th overall winning the plate. Two tournaments in and we are still sitting fifth with France 4th, Canada 3rd, Australia 2nd and New Zealand 1st. With four more tournaments to go our next leg in Atlanta this month will again be crucial to gaining as many points as possible to get us closer to the top four finish we require to qualify for the Olympics.

The last two tournaments have presented us with huge learning curves, and as an individual and collectively as a team we are developing all the time. We were lucky enough to take a short trip to Paris a couple of weeks post, returning from Brazil to do some training against the French women’s 7’s team. France are a team that have been doing well in the series and play similar in areas of the game to us, so it goes without saying that it was a great opportunity to again play some live rugby against some great opposition.
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