Dan Bibby now has a Commonwealth medal to go with his Olympic one after helping England to a fine fightback against defending champions South Africa on Sunday.
The 27-year-old came to the Gold Coast chasing the top spot on the podium – but those hopes were dashed on Sunday morning in Robina Stadium as eventual champions New Zealand beat them in the semi-finals.
That meant they had to dust themselves off and go again for bronze in the afternoon – against defending world series and Commonwealth champions the Blitzbokke who lost to Fiji in the other semi.
“It’s not easy because we came here and we wanted to give ourselves a shot at that gold,” said skipper Tom Mitchell.
“But the mental resilience we’ve cultivated as a squad over the years the boys have been through a lot this year so we decided we were going to park it and enjoy the experience out here and enjoy these amazing moments.
“It always hurts and it will do for while longer but this is sevens and against the top level sides in 14 minutes it is always going to be close. If you get a few things wrong you will get punished for it and New Zealand are an amazing side. But we moved on from it well.”
The South Africans moved into an early 14-0 lead before England – currently eighth in the world series standings – found their groove.
Phil Burgess crossed twice for them to level the scores before skipper Mitchell produced the decisive moment with a fine solo score.
Aspull-born Bibby – who scored the decisive extra time try in Rio against Argentina in the quarters as they claimed Olympic silver – started the game for the eventual bronze medallists.
And they now have their sights set on World Cup glory in San Francisco later this year.
“The bronze is amazing and it’s amazing to contribute to the success of Team England in these games,” added Mitchell.
“But we go back to our values and that’s what we thrive on. It’s putting the team first and it’s about working hard for each other and it’s more than just the rugby for us, we’re a tight group. Certainly this bronze we’ll enjoy for the moment.
“This season has been up and down for us and we’ve missed out against some of the top sides we got on the wrong side of close results so it’s nice to put some wins together in this tournament.”
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