GM's Winter Escape to Paris Sevens

With the Challenge Trophy in hand, we boarded the Eurostar for Paris with no time to celebrate success when the train reaches 338km and the next tournament starts in 5 days.

Paris is a beautiful city steeped in history and the French are very passionate and proud, especially when it comes to rugby. Given the stress on the bodies with 6 games over two days, management gave the team two rest days for active recovery, well most of the team. The boys whom didn’t have a lot of game time had a light run on the Tuesday andmfor those whom know Titch there is no such thing as a light run!

The pitches in which we trained on were all artificial turfs making for a nice surface for training and certainly helps with the laundry side of things as the jerseys are immaculate compared to if they were on a grass pitch. My housekeeping team would love it, so much easier for them.

On Wednesday, we all went for a sightseeing adventure around Paris and high on the list to of things to do was the Eiffel Tower. A couple of quick snaps then off to the Louvre museum and to see what remains of the Notre Dame. An eye opener for some of the Samoan boys as for two members of the team it was their first ever time off the island! 

Thursday is the final big training of the series before the captains run on Friday. Both equally important, much like a labour weekend for us at camp as it’s the preparation to ensure that everything is in place heading into summer, systems and staff etc…

Another jersey presentation, second time for me and it is just as special as the first. The pride and joy in the eyes of the Samoan boys as their names are read out in the Tournament team is fantastic to see1

Arriving at Stade Jean-Bouin, it's 30 degrees and the crowd is building. Having reached the quarter finals, we headed into our first match against Canada with high spirits. I had the honour of the coin toss! You wouldn’t believe it..... Elise our international housekeeper from last summer was there as an official in the tunnel marshalling the players etc.. what a surprise who would have thought from Ohope to Paris.

Winning two out of three games put us into the quarter finals for Sunday. We faced South Africa, which didn’t go so well as they played extremely well and deserved the win. This put us into the play off for 5th against the host nation. OMG what an experience, the French supporters were up for this game, it felt like we were playing 47000 not 7!  The atmosphere was unreal with a live band in the crowd, a full house of French supporters, signs and cheering. We finished 6th which we were still very proud of the boys and their efforts. The team physio said to me "congrats on your test debut as water boy" this made me chuckle what an honour. Not sure who enjoyed this more me or my family who took multiple screen shots from the TV lol…

Then off the awards dinner on the Seine River with the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop. Johnny Vaili made the final 4 for the Rookie of the Year with his stella first series on the circuit.

All an all this has been an experience I will never forget! A special thanks to Sir Gordon Tietjens and the Samoan Sevens team and management for including me in their team. It has certainly helped me grow as a leader and I look forward to sharing what I have learnt with my team back at camp.

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