UR7s columnist Joe Byrnes joined some England 7s stars in the kitchen ahead of London 7s this weekend
Rugby 7s has always walked hand in hand with a days feeding at the trough. From pasta and protein to jaffa cakes and jelly babies, players will throw anything down the hatch to keep the energy levels simmering. Increasingly top food has become a feature for spectators as they enjoy the play on the field and nowhere will be serving up tastier action this weekend than Twickenham for the London 7s.
The RFU aren’t just putting on a festival of rugby this weekend but a feast of food, headlined by BBQ Big Dawg Neil Rankin. Rankin has been a pioneer of the London BBQ scene with founding roles at Smokehouse and Pitt Cue. His newest venture Temper is a sight to behold. An open plan charcoal meat lovers nirvana, with the chefs taking centre stage at the coals set bang in the middle of the restaurant. It's almost theatre… though operating a little more in the realms of farce with Richard De Carpentier, Charlie Hayter and Alex Davis behind the counter for the day! Today they’re serving up steak tacos!
England may have been left a little unfulfilled after the Asia leg of the series, slipping further behind the soon to be crowned Blitzbokke, but spirits seem high amongst the lads. Speaking to them as they butcher a side of cow, they seem content with the progress since last year. They’ve grown as a team, have laid strong foundations for the future and acknowledge that South Africa’s consistency cannot be denied and are well deserving Champions.
Davis takes the lead grilling the beef, overseen by Rankin throughout. For those wondering how to cook the perfect steak at home you need only one pan. Colour the well seasoned steak all over on the hob, then it's straight into the oven to be cooked through for a consistent texture and flavour - simple!
It's appropriate that RDC is nominated to make the salsa, crushing garlic and herbs with a pestle and mortar - his physicality has been a feature for England this Series and will be missed in London.
Finally it's time to eat and delicious is an adjective that falls well short of what is served up. Much like this year's Series, skill and hard work have produced something sumptuous, and left me wanting more! London will serve as the last opportunity to get your 7s fix, bookending an exploratory year for many sides and a dominant one for the Blitzbokke who have lead start to finish.
For a chance to see Neil and taste delicious, gourmet street food, visit the HSBC London Sevens at the World Series finale, 'Feast of Rugby' at Twickenham on Saturday 20th & Sunday 21st May 2017. Tickets start at £30 and are available here.