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FEATURE // PHIL GREENING


Hi Phil How are you? Great thanks


You’ve played a lot of sevens - what was it like playing sevens for your country?


It’s always a honour to play for your country and for me when I first played for England 7s I had 20 caps for England and I was more nervous about my debut then than I was playing for England, as I understood how your skill sets are under a microscope and exposed to all. Everything you do is exposed and can’t be covered up by others. This is why it’s such a great development tool and version of rugby.


What was your finest moment in an England shirt?


Winning Hong Kong for the first time with England.


What was it like being part of the side in the commonwealth games?


A great experience, as being amongst other world class athletes in an event such as the games was incredible. It was both playing and coaching in a commonwealth games- an exciting honour .


How many Middlesex sevens have you been involved with?


2 with Samurai and one with London Wasps when we lost to the Bradford Bulls in the final.


How did you become involved in Samurai?


Good friend and founder of Samurai, Terry Sands asked me to get involved many years ago and more so when I coached the England 7s with Terry as manager.


Where have you most enjoyed playing club rugby?


London Wasps


How difficult do you feel the transition between club rugby and sevens is?


The only difficulty is the speed and pace that you have to adapt to but the fundamentals are the same, it’s the mental side that makes the adjustment difficult. The other side of it is that you will have more time on the ball and skills exposed than you would playing club rugby


How important do you feel - to the future of sevens, is youth training within the game?


Hugely, sevens is not another sport it’s a fundamental version of the 15s game where everything is tested under pressure and fatigue. This is crucial for a player’s individual development and the sooner players get exposed to this the better. Many England 15 players have come through the 7s circuit along with numerous examples from NZ, Australia and SA who all have 7s as a progression path for the youth.


Do you think there is cause to coach individuals solely in sevens from a young age bypassing 15s?


No it’s in conjunction with each other as both skills can be cross fertilised. The fundamentals are crucial in both sports.


Who has been the most enjoyable player to see rise through the ranks?


James Haskell, Tom Croft, Ben Foden, Danny Care have been the most enjoyable to see develop and go into a very successful career.


If you were coaching the current England side - who would you be looking to champion through to becoming a new IRB world sevens superstar?


I think we have many, many young players who could come through and not only be a 7s superstar but also go on into the 15s game. It’s just getting them the development exposure both in sevens and at their club so they can grow at the right pace and in the right environment.


Who do you most admire in sevens, Past or present?


Gordon Tietjens - his standards and fundamentals have been a trade mark for every All Black and his record in the game is incredible. He understands what 7s is all about and how it transcends into the 15s game with good fundamental skill sets.


With the Olympics on the horizon - do you see yourself having any role in it?


Having done 2 commonwealth games I have an understanding of what an event like the Olympics is about and it would be an honour to be involved in some way one day.


Finally - if you could play for one more sevens team - any team past or present - what would it be?


Probably the first side that won HK with the likes of Josh Lewsey, Jamie Noon, Simpson Daniel, Henry Paul and Simon Amor in it, as it was an incredibly bonded, young team that worked hard against all odds to win the series.


Thanks Phil Interview by Alex Foster


PHOTOGRAPHY: IAN MUIR - PHIL WITH WARRICK LAHMERT AT THE MIDDLESEX SEVENS 10 / www.ukrugbysevens.com / Issue 4


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