Cape Town - The 16 captains of the competing nations at the
second round of the World Rugby Sevens Series on Tuesday gathered at Signal
Hill in front of Table Mountain to launch the tournament.
READ: Kick-off times and fixtures for CT Sevens
Following Fiji's victory over England at the opening round
of the World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai, the second round comes around thick
and fast with the Cape Town Sevens taking place this weekend.
Having moved from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town for the
new-look 10 round series, the players descended into Cape Town on a direct
flight from Dubai ready to compete for the second Cup title of the season and
continue their road to Rio.
With only days left before the tournament begins at the 55 000-seater
Cape Town Stadium, sold out on both December 12 and 13, the 16 captains
gathered at Signal Hill in front of Table Mountain to launch the tournament in
Fiji sit on top of the standings, with England, USA and New
Zealand completing the top four and heading the respective pools. Hosts and
defending champions South Africa, who won the Plate in Dubai and will compete
against fellow African countries Kenya and Zimbabwe, and England, in Pool B on day
Tom Mitchell, who captained England to second place in Dubai
and was named in the Dubai Dream Team, alongside team-mate Phil Burgress,
having returned from injury in excellent form, was at the launch and is
expecting a very physical challenge to open the weekend.
"No doubt it's going to be a very physical first day
for us with three tough opponents," said Mitchell told World Rugby’s
official website. "I think the third game will be the highlight for the
crowd, obviously playing South Africa at home is a huge opportunity to
experience here in Cape Town.
"A lot of the challenge of the second week is to get
your bodies into a good state going into the second weekend. It’s also
important to get a bit of down time in the second week, so we will be looking
to get that balance right. We want to improve a few things going into this
weekend, nothing too specific, just a little bit of our top standards in terms
of the rugby we played."
With week two offering something different for all the
teams, in England's case they have a lot of positives to take from Dubai and
Mitchell was in a reflective mood when asked about their performance.
"It (Dubai) was an amazing experience and the guys did
well to get to the final," added Mitchell. "We had some really close
games against some very tough opposition so it was really pleasing to get to
that stage. We’re really pleased with the way the guys battled to the end but
in the end it wasn’t quite enough.
"There were about three to four minutes in the final
that let us down against a very good Fijian side and fair play to them they
played some outstanding rugby across the weekend and we just fell short.
"It’s always good to start well, especially after such
a long pre-season. I think we have got steps forward that we can take in terms
of our performances and the rugby we played, but I think the guys have got
their heads around it and our attitude going into the weekend was spot on, so
we will look to build on that going into Cape Town this weekend."
Captain team photo (Gallo Images)