James Rodwell, 90 not out, breaks appearance record on ‘awesome’ journey

England star James Rodwell broke the all-time HSBC Sevens World Series appearance record with the New Zealand Sevens being his 90th tournament.

“I am living my dream,” said the 34-year-old Olympic silver medalist after helping England win the Challenge Trophy by scoring a try in the 36-7 victory over Kenya in the final on Sunday, January 27 in Hamilton.

The “awesome” journey which began in 2008 for Rodwell, saw the powerful forward overtake New Zealand legend DJ Forbes, who had 89 appearances in World Rugby Sevens.

“I’ve been involved in the game for a fair few years now and DJ Forbes has been at the top of that chart for a long time, and I don’t think anyone would get close to it,” said Rodwell in an interview with World Rugby Sevens. “He’s an absolute legend of the game and to get close to him and be involved in this game, and see the journey over the years, has been really special for me to see how the game has developed and grown all around the world.

“For it to become an Olympic sport is massive for the sport. It’s been fantastic to be part of it and I think this is probably one that I will look at when I finish,” said the Commonwealth bronze medalist. “Back in 2008, the game was very different back then – 10-minute finals were a joy, three subs in a game were even worse, and the fitness levels, we thought we were great back then. But now you see boys who are taking everything to new levels – the speed, the fitness, the strength and everything. It’s a completely different game now.

“The journey has been awesome. Just the places that we go to around the world and its really growing in every country that we go to. To be a part of it is really special. I think the game is going to carry on growing and growing right through to Tokyo and beyond.”

Rodwell has taken on the role of player-coach in recent times. “At the moment it is great to be part of the team still and to be able to pass that knowledge on, and key areas that I am trying to get better and better. If I can pass some of that knowledge on, hopefully it will leave the team in a better place,” Rodwell added.

England are fifth in the World Series standings after the New Zealand leg with 38 points, six behind fourth-placed South Africa. The top four teams at the end of the Series book tickets to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. England are the qualification team for Team GB.

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