Meg Jones stressed the importance of the journey over the outcome after England women’s sevens failed to qualify from their group at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The bronze medallists from Gold Coast 2018 were beaten 38-7 by New Zealand at Coventry Arena in their final Pool A contest, having already lost to Canada on the opening day.
Only three members of the current squad were part of the team that completed the podium Down Under four years ago, including ex-Hartpury duo Jones and Abbie Brown.
And Jones, who is co-captaining England women’s sevens with Brown, said the path her team are on is more important than any medal as they strive to inspire more girls to play rugby.
“I’m so proud of this group,” she said. "We have a big emphasis on being a girl gang and being so much bigger than just the outcome and the sport itself, we’re trying to inspire a nation.
“I hope we’ve done that and it kind of looks like we have done that out there. We’re getting bit of recognition as well when we’re walking around so that’s a big part for me.
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“The journey is the biggest part for me despite the outcome, it doesn’t really matter although we obviously love winning as well. There’s always an expectation, we’re all striving to be the best and we were going for gold. I think to strive for that dream is what we need to do.
“You look at that team we had in the Gold Coast, the array of experience we had, and then you fast forward and look at the experience here - we’ve only got three from the Gold Coast.
“Consistency in the group has only been since January this year so it shows you how much consistency in the team is vital and we need to build on that going forward.”
England’s women bounced back from their defeat to New Zealand in style in the evening session, beating South Africa 36-0 to set up a play-off for fifth place with Scotland.
Brown added: “I’m so proud of the girls, it’s a home Commonwealth Games and a lot of the girls haven’t been to multi-sport events before and there’s so much more to it than meets the eye.
“For me, the efforts we’ve shown across the course of the weekend has been great and hopefully we can go show what we’re about as Team England in our final game.”
Gloucester-born Alex Davis was also in action for the men’s team as they were beaten 20-0 by New Zealand in their group stage finale, ending their own medal ambitions.
But Davis and his inexperienced squad, which includes 12 Games debutants, responded to that disappointment by beating Jamaica 45-7 to set up a much-anticipated clash with Wales.
“We would obviously like to be in the knockout quarter-finals but we’re not and now we just have to maximise the opportunities that we’ve got left and learn from what we can,” Davis said.
“There’s obviously always a lot of external noise around our programme and around rugby sevens as a sport but we’ve just tried to nail down and focus on what we can control.
“That’s our performance on the pitch, our analysis off the pitch, sticking together, our values and our bigger values of cultivating greatness, it’s obviously not visible to people not in our camp.
“When times are hard, we stick together and we’re not far away. The scoreboard reflects some of the outcomes different, but I feel like we are super close to some of these teams.
“The Samoa result (on day one) wasn’t ideal, but we’ve run them close recently and it’s just about clicking at the right time altogether but that’s a reflection of where we are as a young side.”
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