Simon Amor’s ascension to England’s coaching team will prove a smash-hit with the players as well as providing a huge lift for Sevens rugby, according to Ruaridh McConnochie.
Bath winger McConnochie, 28, made it into England’s World Cup squad after successfully transitioning from Sevens and knows new Red Rose attack coach Amor well from his time in the short form of the game, having starred in the World Series for England and Team GB at the 2016 Olympics.
Two-cap McConnochie is keen to continue his international journey and believes Amor, 40, is the ideal man to succeed Scott Wisemantel, who coached England’s backs at the World Cup.
McConnochie told The Rugby Paper: “It’s great for Simon and it’s another boost for the Sevens game knowing that people can cross over, not just players but coaches as well.
“Hopefully, it will get a lot more people thinking about Sevens as a career path because it’s great for him professionally and I know how good a coach he is and what he can bring to a team.
“He’s a very detailed man whose general knowledge of the game is excellent. He’s a real student of the game who’ll leave no stone unturned in his analysis of his own team and the opposition, so it would be great to have the opportunity of working with him again.”
Despite his recent history in Sevens, Amor was a more than useful scrum-half for Gloucester and Wasps and coached 15-a-side rugby successfully at London Scottish, so McConnochie has no concerns over his ability to earn the respect of the players now under his watch.
He added: “You’d like to think the players will 100 per cent respect him. Eddie Jones is no idiot and knows talent when he sees it, in coaches as well as players, so I think Simon will be a great addition to the management team and, hopefully, we’ll see some good things.”
McConnochie, meanwhile, is desperate to continue his fledgling international 15s career after a stunning 2018/19 season that saw him hit his potential for Bath before overcoming two injury scares to force his way into England’s squad for Japan.
Having twice been slated for a Test debut in warm-up matches against Wales, hip and hamstring injuries put his World Cup hopes in doubt before he got a long-awaited shot against Italy.
“I’m not going to lie, it was pretty dark times in my head, especially for
24-48 hours after my second injury when I knew I’d miss the Ireland game as well,” McConnochie said.
“I thought my World Cup hopes might have gone, but everyone in the squad got behind me and to then be named and make my debut against Italy was incredible.
“I only played one game at the World Cup, against USA, but it was one more than I ever thought I’d get. I knew it would be a struggle to crack the 23, which is testament to the quality of our other players, but I was determined to make the most of the experience.
“It’s something I’ll hold dear for the rest of my life and I feel I came back a better player. The frustrating thing was breaking my hand four games after coming back to Bath because I’d really been looking forward to getting some good game time in here.”
Fit again, but not named in England’s Six Nations squad, McConnochie could only watch as Bath’s 19-year-old wing protégé Gabe Hamer-Webb surged from the club’s academy to impress at the Rec.
“How good has he been? It’s awesome.” says McConnochie. “It’s a big testament to our academy around the stuff they do and Gabe’s an incredible athlete, probably stronger and quicker than most of our other backs – and he’s still only 19 with so much to come.
“He’s got an incredible future ahead of him and he’s scored some great tries already, so it’s pretty scary for the rest of us in his position but brilliant for the club.”
McConnochie has no intention of lying down, though, whether it be for club or country. He added: “You need competition because it makes us all hungrier to succeed and, as far as England is concerned, no one wants to end on the number of caps they have.
“I’d love to be involved with England again because it was an incredible time when I was there, so I’ll be trying to put performances in – then it’s up to the coaches.”