UR7s caught up with former Spain 7s winger to talk life after rugby, the Beach Rugby Series and what's next.
Playing sevens on the world series for 4 years, have been some of my rugby career highlights and the buzz that the players and everyone gets in that environment is something that often replicates into invitational and touring sides globally. This buzz is something that can be felt through team sports and a competitive environment, no matter what age, genre, demographic background the individual is. This competitive, yet friendly environment is sadly missed since not being on the world circuit and as tours and festive vibes around sports based events are few and far between, I find myself searching for ways to seek that vibes.
Tom Burwell, founder of UR7s and now the Beach Rugby Series gave me an opportunity in September to be part of an exciting project starting in the UAE in the next few months, which meant two months training on a course in Capetown. The Thursday quickly arrived and I was taken down to camps bay to what I thought would be a few boys throwing a ball about. After an hour of setup and watching more and more people arrive in their respective colours, I took a moment to step back and admire the iconic playing field, weather and epic scenery that was on show. All of a sudden, being amongst the competitive nature of the teams, I felt that certain vibe again.
The competitive edge of the tournament, along with the friendly banter and good spirit amongst all teams, i believe, makes this beach series what it is. There are mixed abilities and all ages which are all equaled out competition wise, due to the playing field being so unforgiving. I had the opportunity to play for a team in the finals day and thought that it would be a light run around and perhaps get an opportunity to 'step an oldie' or 'gas a fatty'. But after a minute of playing, realised that simply staying on the pitch for another minute would be an accomplishment. The lactate in my legs was something i would feel if i was doing a sevens pre season and my lungs were also burning. I soon realised that i probably appeared the 'oldie and the fatty'. The sand is something which builds up an amazing resistance in the legs and bodies adapt to this well over time. Hence why the best team in the Spring series (the camps bay legends) have so much more resilience to the surface, as they have been playing on that beach for 25 years.
The final element for me, which makes this series so exciting is the fact that it is run in a very professional manner. From pitch layout, to referees to kit branding and sponsors. Albeit a recreational activity, this professionalism gives an element to the series which can allow expansion of the beach rugby game.
Of course it's not all about the beach, I am in Cape Town for a reason as I mentioned and that's the next stage of my career. The last month has been basically back to school from sports psychology to early development patterns, to speed mechanics, rehab, rehab, you name it I have been learning about it. Basically anything that is required to build the ultimate rugby 7s player and I am in class taking it all in from experts from across the world and all sports. The new UR7s full-time program that I have been recruited for is going to be the first in the world for rugby 7s and alongside sports such as Tennis, Golf, Cycling and I am very proud that I will be involved if a little apprehensive. It's been hard-work but to be innovating and be at the forefront of performance development in the sport is something that I have always wanted and something that UR7s is making possible.
Whilst I am here I have been coaching the WP Rugby Academy their 7s modules as I am looking forward to coaching them in a tournament next week before I leave, I might even get a run out. All the Beach Rugby might come to something. I am training out of a gym called Roark Gyms which has been epic and I am very grateful for Ant and the guys down there handing it to me each morning, keeping up with Tom is an effort in itself. Roark is about mindset as much physical and there are some obvious comparisons to 7s. Chris Cracknell is coming out to see Tom next month, I will be interested to hear his and Mat Turners thoughts on Roark and it's comparisons to 7s. I am certainly back to something like full fitness after a year in Singapore so I thank them for that.
I am so excited for what's to come be it coaching, playing on the beach or developing young stars of the future in the classroom in a way that has never been done before in our sport but mainly I am thankful for the opportunity and look forward to whats to come.
Of course, there will also be the odd tour.
As they say on the Beach Series here's to Blue Skies, High Fives and Good Vibes - I reckon that's not a bad way to live your life wherever you are.