Marlie Packer

São Paulo Sevens

Read Marlie's round-up on England's performance at the Women’s Sevens Series in São Paulo.

This was our first tournament of the year abroad and we got off to a bit of a mixed start but there is definitely some lessons that we can take from the visit. We had lots of good things planned to do, in between all of the training of course. We initially planned to head to Rio, do a trek and scope out the setting for the Olympics set to take place in August, sadly our time in Rio was cut short due to the worrying news around the Zika virus.

On the day before we flew out we were out training to get ahead of the game and make sure we were all slick in our tactics. We had another training session the next morning and then flew out that Tuesday evening. I’m trying to remember anything that happened on the flight but I seem to be having some trouble...my teammates had a bit of a nag at me because I managed to sleep through the whole flight! I think they were just jealous because they had to find ways to entertain themselves for the 11 hours we were up in the air.

With Sao Paulo being three hours behind GMT, we managed to get there with a full day ahead of us. It was quite nostalgic as the hotel we stayed at was the same one that we had last year. Last year there was construction work going on just opposite the hotel and this time around there was a huge hotel in it’s place! It felt weird to see such a big change in what feels like such a short amount of time.

Once we were all settled in, we decided to have a recovery gym session (I definitely needed something to wake me up after my kip on the plane). We did a couple of spin classes to get things moving again and had some team meetings that night to go over our tactics.

Scoping out the scene

The next day we started where we left off, we went through our team tactics, run throughs and got stuck into training. It felt really easy to get back into the flow of things, not only was it the same hotel we were at, it was the same training venue! We were caught off guard by one thing, the weather; one minute it was glorious sunshine and within five minutes we were in the middle of a tropical storm – it was absolutely tipping it down. The storm didn’t stay too long and as soon as it stopped it went back to being beautiful and sunny.

After training, the team weren’t 100% satisfied so we decided to do a twenty-minute skill run through for the next day. That night we had our shirt presentation with the tournament starting the next day.

The Tournament

As I mentioned earlier we had a mixed set of results and there’s definitely some learnings we can take away from our time in Sao Paulo. In our opening pool games we managed to get some strong wins against both Japan and Brazil, 31-5 and 24-7 respectively. When we came up against France, we lost by a 5 point try and ended up behind with ENG 12 - FRA 17. Even with the loss against France we managed to get into the cup rounds.

Our first cup game had us pitted against USA. The last time we played the girls from America was in the qualifiers for Rio back in Amsterdam which was actually a really right game. I was a little disappointed as I didn’t get to start in this game and USA ended up taking the win with 22-12.

The next game saw us face off with Fiji. We were in seventh/eighth position, not quite where we wanted to be but that’s just the nature of 7s. We still gave it our all. Sadly, Fiji pulled through and the game ended 26-12. Our last game of the tournament was up against Brazil (again), and funnily enough, we beat them 24-7 (again)! What are the odds.

This saw us out of the tournament and myself and the girls were all a little disappointed but this isn't going to have us beaten for long. Before we headed back to the UK on the Monday we managed to fit in a recovery session at the gym. To top it all off, I somehow managed to lose my phone whilst we were over there, so I lost all of my photos of the team.

I personally wasn’t 100% happy with my performance and we’ll all make sure we bounce back. There’s definitely some lessons that we can take away from the tournament and we’ve got some areas of improvement but we’ll be back stronger than ever.