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20 Questions: Ruaridh McConnoghie – England Sevens

How about that for a first half of the World Series?

We’ve already won two tournaments and we’re the only team to have beaten South Africa. It shows all the training work we’ve been doing.

Does playing with the same squad help?

Until the last tournament in Vancouver we’ve managed to play with the same 12 players. We had to bring in two players for that one after injuries but we still won which shows the depth of our squad.

What else has been clicking for this year?

We know how each other plays and how we will react to certain situations. Changes disrupt teams and we haven’t had that this season so far.

Can you push on and win the World Series?

Being in every final like South Africa have so far would help but we’ll just concentrate on each of the four tournaments remaining. As soon as we won in Vancouver we switched out attention on Hong Kong. Playing South Korea in our first game is our only focus for now.

What do you need to improve before Hong Kong?

We played some of our best Sevens in Vancouver where we were very clinical. We’re just looking at how to break down South Korea first. We pride ourselves in being adaptable to the opposition and do what’s needed to win.

Second season for you on the World Series?

Last season was a big learning curve for me. I was just trying to play in as many tournament as I could and take it in my stride.

How did you go from newbie, to Olympian, to world class Sevens player in just over a year?

I just want to be the best I can. At first I just wanted to make the team, then I wanted to start games, then be one of the best players on the pitch. The coaches always give us things to improve on so I’m doing my best in training to keep getting better.

What’s your position?

I was playing full-back in 15s but I’m quite tall. I started at centre in Dubai for my first tournament, then fly-half in Sydney before finally moving to prop towards the end of the season.

How did you end up playing for England Sevens?

My path was very different to someone like Dan Norton who was in the Gloucester academy and showed aptitude for Sevens. I was at the University of Gloucestershire and ended up playing for England students and GB Students Sevens.

What was your career plan?

I was training to be a teacher but within two months it all changed and I didn’t have to go in the big bad world just yet.

Never been spotted before?

I played one A- League game for Bristol but that was it. I played two seasons for Nuneaton in National Three and one for Hartpury College in National One.

Hard graft pays off then?

That’s what I’ve been telling youngsters when we visit schools. I never thought I’d make it when I was 16 as I wasn’t in an academy. But I just loved the game and kept plucking at it and made my England debut at 23.

Best trip on the World Series?

I loved the atmosphere in Cape Town. Playing in the final against South Africa was incredibly loud. Everyone is looking forward to Hong Kong and Dubai, too. Twickenham at the end of the season is every English kid’s dream.

A big change from away trips in National Three then?

Going to Scunthorpe was always pretty hard. I just remember a bog-like corner on the pitch every player was avoiding.

How did the fans react after you scored the winning try in Cape Town?

We always do a lap of honour after the last game and the fans were great.

Best night out on the Series?

Sydney is pretty good.

Do you go out together?

We travel the world being in the same flights, hotels or eating in the same places so we spend a lot of time together. After the Olympics, we became good mates with the Scottish and Welsh players.

Still studying for teaching?

The aim is still to get my PCGE and I try to keep myself busy with shadowing days at my old school in Cranbrook.

Best and worst banter in the England Sevens squad?

Dan Norton is relentless but bad while Richard de Carpentier has good wit.

Best and worst dressed?

Ollie Lindsay-Hague takes a lot of time to dress himself and checking his hair in the mirror. Charlie Hayter dresses like a 60-year-old.

*Support the HSBC London Sevens at the World Series finale, ‘Feast of Rugby’ at Twickenham on Saturday 20th & Sunday 21st May 2017. Tickets start at £30 and are available here.

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