The Rugby Pod met up with Olympic silver medalist & England Rugby Sevens legend, Dan Norton, during a recent trip to Singapore. Dan was helping out with UFIT’s Education & Rugby camps, run by Ex Gloucester & England international, James Forrester. Full details & Links below:
Dan, first of all congratulations on a Silver medal at the Olympics. Did Rio live up to your expectations?
Absolutely. Growing up as a 9-year-old in Gloucester, I never saw myself competing in the Olympics, not least in Rugby, so to be there representing Great Britain was amazing. Being part of the whole event and mingling with the likes of Mo Farrah and Usian Bolt was a bit surreal, and then to also come away with a medal just made it even better.
I heard you’re actually faster than Bolt over 40m. Did you challenge him to a race?
Everywhere he went he was being mobbed! We would see him in the canteen eating and the minute he stood up people would be all over him, so he would make a run for the exit. So, no we haven’t had a chance to race yet!
Looking at the Sevens World Series, it seems like a dream job. Travelling to some of the best cities in the world, playing the game you love?
It’s a pretty special and amazing job. It’s kind of like Formula 1, just not as much money, or as many girls! But it’s incredible, we get to play in front of 30-40k people in each of these different cities and we also get to explore, socialise and have fun. Having said that, it’s also a lot of hard work. We’re training at such high intensity and pushing each other extremely hard. Ultimately though, it is a dream job and I definitely can’t complain!
You travel with the other teams, stay in the same hotels, play and socialise with them, how does that work?
There’s a lot of engagement between players both on and off the pitch. Pre-tournament, it’s like a game of chess. It’s strictly business, and there’s a certain amount of animal pride around the place. But afterwards, everyone loosens up, you go out for a few beers and have a laugh. There are always a few egos walking around the place, but it’s all good fun and everyone tends to get on well.
We do a Podcast with Andy Goode & Jim Hamilton and Andy in particular is very much of the opinion that a beer is an absolute necessary in terms of team building. How do you bond as a team?
Haha, I’m sure he does! But yes, it definitely it helps. With GB we had players coming together in a very short space of time, so after our first tournament in Russia, we went out for a session. That breaks down barriers a lot quicker and any awkward conversations are done away with outside the Kebab shop. It’s a great way to bond, but ultimately training is so important. Sevens is unforgiving and there’s nowhere to hide out there. Your only as good as your weakest player, so we push each other in training and that helps with the bonding
Who’s your toughest opponent in the World Series?
The Fijians are just Incredible athletes. As you probably saw, we were blown away in the Olympic final by them. On their day, they are untouchable. They play a brand of rugby that everyone loves to watch and players would love to emulate, but they don’t all have the same skill-sets. Generally, everyone is over 6 foot, fit strong and fast, so it makes the game very hard and there are no weak teams out there.
You started off as a Union Player. Would you ever consider returning to the 15-man game?
I’m very open to playing both. Sevens improves your skills immensely and for a young player it’s an incredible learning curve. You act as a play maker, try scorer, tackler, winning turn overs, everything. I did thoroughly enjoy 15’s, but sevens is moving forward so quickly. We will have another Olympics 2020, but there’s a World Cup in two years in the U.S as well as commonwealth games on the Gold Coast. These are all amazing sporting events. Sevens is on a wave at the moment and I’m really enjoying it. I’m happy where I am, but then again, not ruling anything out for the future.
Finally, what Sevens Series City is your favourite destination?
Las Vegas, just for being Las Vegas, is an awesome tournament. Vancouver is an also a great city and I really enjoyed it there, so they would be my top two. The joy is going to different climates, different cultures, cuisines and nights out. We get to see the best cities in the world and that’s why Sevens is so special and enjoyable. Sometimes, when we’re in the Southern hemisphere in February, you turn on the premiership and it’s driving rain, a mud bath. Lots of mauls, up and unders etc. I’m not into that. I prefer the beautiful game, getting the ball into my hands and trying to score tries, so Sevens.
UFIT Sports Education A specialist division of UFIT. Delivering internationally recognised certifications. Ranging from personal training to strength courses. www.ufit.com.sg/kids-camps
Written by Fred Culazzo for www.TheRugbyPod.com