Stephenson and De Carpentier reflect on ‘special’ England Sevens trip

Warriors pair James Stephenson and Richard de Carpentier admitted their recent experience playing for England Sevens in the HSBC World Sevens Series was “special”.

Wing Stephenson and flanker De Carpentier were both drafted into the squad last month to feature in the Wellington Sevens in New Zealand before flying to Las Vegas, USA for the next series.

And for Stephenson, who embarked on his debut England Sevens campaign, it was one to remember.

He said: “To go to a country where they are so rugby mad and to experience the Wellington Sevens, was incredible. I couldn’t have asked for a better first tournament. It was amazing.

“The Westpac Stadium is pretty special and you can feel the energy, the vibe and the atmosphere of the supporters. Even though we were getting booed as England players, it still gives you an adrenaline rush as you step out onto the field and it was pretty special.”

England made it to the Cup final of the Wellington Sevens where they took on the hosts but were edged 27-21.

Both Warriors players came off the bench to feature in the match and Stephenson insisted it was a moment he will never forget despite the defeat.

He explained: “What a way to experience Sevens rugby at its highest level. To reach the final in my first tournament was incredible.

“Singing the national anthem was so special and it’s something I will never forget. We could have gone one better and won it but just to be in the final was something else.”

The following weekend after Wellington saw the pair head to Las Vegas for the next leg of the Sevens series and Stephenson revealed it was a completely different environment in the USA.

He stated: “Vegas was surprisingly a bigger turnout in terms of fans at the ground which just shows the amount of effort they’re putting into rugby at the moment and how much it’s growing in the USA.

“That took me by surprise. For a three-day tournament they sold around 70,000 tickets which was really impressive. To experience that was fantastic and we had a few fans in Vegas.

“They put an American spin on the tournament with the American commentary, the pep rallies beforehand and they made it slightly different. It was like a new style of rugby and they bring that kind of edginess to it and that’s a great direction for them to go in.”

Stephenson was forced to play in several positions during his time with England but admitted he didn’t mind which position he was in, as long as he was involved in the action.

He continued: “I covered hooker, wing and centre. The intensity of each position is pretty similar. You don’t have to worry too much about position which was ideal. As long as I knew my role from the set-piece it was fine.”

And the pacey back, who scored tries against Canada and France, added: “It’s always great to get on the scoresheet.

“If I get the chance to join up with England again and I can get a bit more game-time, I’d love to build on that.”

Meanwhile, De Carpentier, who was playing in his fifth tournament with the England Sevens team in Vegas, thanked the Warriors coaches for giving him the opportunity to represent his country once again.

He stated: “It was a lot different to the last time I played but it was just as special. Myself and James are thankful to Dean Ryan and England Sevens Head Coach Simon Amor for allowing us to get the opportunity to play for England. Any time you get to sing the national anthem is special.”

With the Sevens side playing back-to-back tournaments, De Carpentier admitted it was a full-on schedule.

He added: “It was pretty full on. Vegas was a hard place to play rugby because you’re there for a week and there is so much going on you’ve got to keep yourself down to earth but it was a special experience.

“I felt like I was in a good place with all the conditioning we’ve been doing this year at Warriors and my match fitness has got better since I’ve been away. Hopefully now I can push to get some more games under my belt at Warriors.”