Why England will be “throwing the kitchen sink” at LA

This time last year Max Clementson was in the pre-season with Chinnor from National 1

© RFU Collection via Getty Images

When Max Clementson last spoke to TRU, it was just hours ago that his contract with the England Sevens for the 2022 season was announced.

At the time, Clementson was performing for National 1’s Chinnor. In the months since, the Hartpury graduate has played at every stage of the season’s HSBC World Series and represented Team England at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Now he and his team-mates have just two tournaments together before the Great Britain Sevens take the places of the men’s and women’s teams of England, Scotland and Wales in the World Series.

Her trip to Los Angeles will mark the end of her World Series campaign. England are far from in contention for a top three, currently eighth in the standings, their last podium finish coming back in January at Malaga.

Once LA is over, England and many more teams will be jetting off to South Africa for the World Rugby Sevens World Cup in Cape Town. Last chance Clementson and his teammates to play together before Britain comes together.

“I absolutely loved it,” Clementson told TRU. “That’s out of the question. I would have bitten your arm off last year if you’d told me I’d get a contract to play for the England Sevens.

“I’ve always said I don’t know what would happen in the future after the World Cup in September, but I just told myself to have a fantastic year, absolutely love it and try to stay in the moment as much as possible to record as much as possible.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to play in pretty much every tournament – apart from a Rugby Europe tournament – it’s been amazing. The guys are great and we have a really tight group.

“The core group of the squad has been to pretty much every tournament and we’re really close and I’ve loved it. I will miss this group because this group will never be the same again.

“That’s why the boys are really looking forward to LA because it’s the last time they represent the England Sevens at a World Series event at all. That’s a massive reason the guys want to get picked. It’s a bit like one last hurrah.”

Clementson sees this weekend in LA as the “last dance” for him and his England Sevens team-mates

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In LA, England is merged with Scotland, Samoa and Kenya. Along with Samoa at last month’s Commonwealth Games, as well as in the London 7s alongside Scotland, England are being tested in every second of the competition.

At the Coventry Stadium, England were defeated by Samoa 0:38 in the opening test of their home games. England bounced back against Sri Lanka before being beaten by New Zealand and went straight into close combat to take ninth place.

It was a fight they would be victorious in, beating Uganda 31-7 in their last game of the weekend. Just a few weeks into his Midlands spell, Clementson described being a Team England player as “fantastic”.

“We had a meeting the other night and we did well in the commies but we struggled in the first glory against Samoa, a lot of pressure and we didn’t end up on the right side of the result,” he said.

“What has been said is that we have nothing to lose. We don’t have relegation, it’s the last World Series, we have nothing to lose, so we’re just going to go out there and really express ourselves, throw the kitchen sink at it and see what we can do.

“Teams can do a lot when there’s no pressure and you can get out there and express yourself and have a great time and that’s what we’re really going to be looking for.

“We have three strong teams in our group, we don’t shy away from that, but we’re preparing now and doing our job. Hopefully we can go out there and be successful in our last tournament.”

When it comes to the future, Clementson doesn’t look much further than the next challenge ahead. Initially, he and his teammates’ contracts only ran for nine months, with LA and Cape Town being the bookends of an extremely unique year in their lives.

Alex Davis will miss LA through injury as the England captain faces a World Cup return. That means players are fighting for chances even before they think about making the GB squad.

“The boys are very excited, especially when we found out they were going to the UK just before the commies,” said Clementson. “It was like, ‘Okay, I might not have a job in two or three months.’

“But you also say, ‘If I look at it another way, I have three of the best tournaments of the coming year.’ There was the Commonwealth Games, rugby in LA and then a World Cup in Cape Town.

“A lot of people want to play rugby there; in South Africa the crowd absolutely jumps. There will be something to see.”

It’s his take-it-all-as-is attitude that has helped Clementson establish himself as one of Tony Roques’ most trusted players. Nothing will change for the 24-year-old until Cape Town.

“When you’re present and in the moment, you can enjoy everything and be a lot more grateful for the things you have,” he said. “For example, this is our last week in camp.

Clementson has represented England at every stage of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series this season

© RFU Collection via Getty Images

“There have been a lot of camps this year and now just being in the moment, enjoying camp, looking forward to our last training session together and enjoying that before we move on to LA. I also haven’t really thought much about the World Cup.

“I’ve been thinking about getting selected for LA and getting on the plane. 13 going to LA and AJ [Davis] doesn’t go to LA and only 12 go to the World Cup. You must tell yourself that you are not yet selected.

“You just have to enjoy everything for now and you just don’t know what’s going to happen in terms of injuries, selection or anything like that. So you’re just enjoying the moment, being present, and I think that puts you in the best position to really soak it all up.

“I’ve been to some amazing places this year and I’ve loved every moment of it. There were some really difficult moments as a team. I made my debut in Malaga against South Africa and we were beaten 42-0.

“In that tournament we went on and won bronze against Australia so the way we bounced back as a team showed a lot of character from us. I think we had some great moments and difficult moments.

“I think that’s what brought us so close and so strong as a group and why the squad is really looking forward to having some final dances together as a group and we’re really excited about that.”

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