England may have fallen at the final hurdle as they searched for Exeter 7s glory, but there were certainly major plus points to take away from last weekend.
The hosts were beaten 14-5 by France at Sandy Park, but throughout the weekend, serious progress was made by this England team.
England won every game on day one in this leg of the Rugby Europe Grand Prix 7s Series. They beat Italy in the opening game before mounting a comeback against Lithuania and rounded off proceedings with a comfortable 48-0 win over Spain to finish top of Pool B.
The Red Rose were then drawn against Lithuania in the quarter-finals and they went into Sunday’s game full of confidence after running in eight tries against Spain.
Unlike, their group match against Lithuania; England cruised to a 32-0 victory and advanced into the semi-finals.
Spain beat Russia 14-5 in the quarters to set up a rematch against England in the last four of the competition.
Sam Edgeton’s two tries and a score from Ruaridh McConnnohie (RedPanda Sevens players) helped England to a 19-0 semi-final victory, despite them being down to six men at one stage.
It wasn’t quite as clear-cut as their group stage win over Spain but it was more than enough to book their place in the Cup final of the Exeter leg against France.
Les Blues had beaten Germany 24-5 and were in a buoyant mood heading into the final.
They were unbeaten and that had helped them book their place for the 2016 Olympics Games in Rio.
This would be England’s biggest test, but they were also in a positive frame of mind as they had scored 99 points without reply in their previous three matches.
But, it was France who produced a first-rate performance in the final to triumph 14-5.
Manoel Dall Igna and Steve Barry crossed for the French and although McConnochie continued his superb form with another try, England couldn’t reduce the gap.
Despite this disappointment, one thing that stood out from the weekend was that this England side is very well rounded. It has all the elements for success with that strong mix of youth and experience.
Their electric performances throughout this leg of the Europe Grand Prix 7s showed that this side is capable of greatness. They applied themselves superbly across the two days.
They continued to improve over the weekend and that was highlighted by the two matches against Lithuania and they can now build on this excellent tournament ahead of the World Series.