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Perry Baker: 'You walk around with a target on your back'

By Perry Baker

It feels like the rugby Gods have been with us this season and it’s crazy to be No1 all the way through the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.


We know that everyone is gunning for us at Twickenham and that comes with being the top ranked team and I am so excited to be fit to return after my double broken jaw.

Because we are the USA, people didn’t expect us to get to No1 and stay there, but they were looking from outside and in our camp we knew what we wanted to achieve and it is incredible to be in this position. As a result, you walk around with a target on your back and we are fully aware of the challenge we face in the final two legs in London and Paris.

Our goal coming into the season was to make top four and automatically qualify for next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, but over the months that has evolved into a burning desire to finish as champions.

I suffered my broken jaw against Tonga at the Hamilton tournament in January and it turned out to be 12 weeks rather than eight before I was ready to return to the circuit. As my injury shows, anything can happen at any time and the key is to stay totally focussed. Being out for so long made me really appreciate how fortunate I am to travel the World and play at these amazing venues with “my boys” and we also have Danny Barrett back after he recovered from his injury and so the guys are all back together.

I am honoured to feature in the latest special documentary film made by HSBC

and hopefully it will give fans an insight into my early life and career in American Football before serious injury struck along with the journey it has taken to get to this point where I have been humbled to be named a two time World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year.

Everyone has been talking about us being three points ahead of Fiji in the table with two legs of the Series to go but we cannot afford to get caught up with all the talk about what will happen when we play them. We both have tough pool matches to deal with first and you just have to let everything else take care of itself.


Last year I missed playing at Twickenham because I was recovering from a shoulder injury and the target then was being ready for the World Cup Sevens in San Francisco and so I am really looking forward to running out onto the famous pitch again. It is always a fantastic event at Twickenham and has a special meaning for our English coaches Mike Friday and Anthony Roques and you always want to do well in front of your own fans.

England will want to deliver big performances because they are currently fifth in the table behind South Africa and have two more tournaments to try and make it into one of those automatic Olympic qualifying places. A lot can happen over these last two legs and it’s what makes this Series so exciting and everyone will be on the edge of their seats waiting to see what’s going to happen.

The fans at Twickenham really get involved and it creates an amazing atmosphere and this year they can get into the spirit of the event through the use of the HSBC Dance Cam. The champion of this will have a chance to spin the wheel of fortune to see if they are lucky enough to win a HSBC Hot Seat experience. That will involve comfy sofas on the half way line as well as free food and drink. It’s all right for some!

Back home everyone is really proud of us because of how far we have come and it is so great to be American and ranked No1 right now.


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Turlough 1 hours ago
'Let them keep talking' - Mike Catt claps back over Bok remarks

“You want that – not hatred – but whatever it is that stirs it all up. It’s good.” Agree with this. If you can put a common motivating idea in all your players heads during a game it can produce a real Team perfromance. Erasmus is pretty expert at this. It is quite clear that the comments by Etzebeth, Allende and others were not coincidence and were actioned to create animoisty before the series in order to galvanise the South African mind set. While I understand it, I don’t like it. They result in unnessary vitriol between supporters and for what? I don’t think any of the SA players seriously believe any of these claims and with Ireland ignoring them Erasmus won’t get the escalation he seeks. The vitriol shown by some SA and indeed NZ supporters is extremely weird for NH supporters (OK, maybe England have felt it) but it just feels very odd over a sport. Ireland were more or less sh1t for the first 100 years of their rugby, they have improved significantly in the last 25 to be in a position around now (it may not last) to go into a match with the big guns with a real shot of winning. The reaction to this from some SH supporters has been bizarre with conspiracy theories of ‘Arrogance’ fueling abuse from supporters and even NZ players to Irish crowds during the world cup. I love International rugby and the comraderie between supporters. I genuinely dread and dislike the atmosphere around games with the southern giants. They take this very personally. NH teams: play them, try and beat them, enjoy the craic with their players and supporters and wish them well. SH teams wish them well and they call you arrogant in the press months later. Its just a matter of try and beat them and then good riddance til the next time.

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