Despite a loss in the final against Scotland, there was definitely something to celebrate in the England camp at the end of the final tournament of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, which wrapped up in London: Dan Norton earned the DHL Impact Player Award for the fourth time this season.
Norton’s win was certainly hard-fought: he finished four points ahead of Sam Cross from Wales in the London rankings and three points clear of Perry Baker from the US. While the three men were nearly dead even on carries for the final tournament of the series, it was Norton’s outstanding tackling (16 in total) that earned him the win in London.
Norton may have edged out Cross for bragging rights in London, but it was Cross who took the DHL Impact Player Award for the entire series. That was a battle between those two men that went back and forth all weekend in London, with Norton taking the lead at times, only to be overtaken by Cross in the end. Cross finished just one point ahead of Norton in the final ranking.
“It’s been a big focus in the last two tournaments, neck and neck with Norts,” Cross said after the award was finally his. “Great to pip him in the end, but he still has four watches for the year, so he hasn’t done too bad himself.”
Reflecting on his four DHL Impact Player Award wins and his team’s two tournament victories in Cape Town and Vancouver, Norton summed it up succinctly: “It’s been a successful year.”
Scotland win again in London
Falling one point shy of Cross was likely related to the grueling final match in London, which Norton and his England teammates contested against a determined Scottish side. Norton opened the scoring in the match, but the energy-sapping encounter didn’t leave much room for Norton to add to his point tally, and Scotland took the 12-5 win in London for the second year in a row.
“I’m lost for words,” said Scotland captain Scott Riddell, who scored the game-winner. “We were under the pump and we just keep fighting and we took our chances. You couldn’t write a script like that.”
There was one more trophy awarded in London: the overall series champions. That honor went to South Africa, who finished fifth in London but well ahead of second-place England in the overall standings.