Hampton’s Greatest Sporting Moments: Amor’s Silver Medal
Over the next term, HSC will be attempting to discover the identity of Hampton’s Greatest Sporting Moment, with your help. This article looks back on Simon Amor’s Olympic Silver medal in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. This will compete against three other moments in Group Two. Vote in our Twitter poll on Friday to decide your favourite moments – the winner will progress to the quarter-final stage!
Hampton’s Greatest Sporting Moments Group Two: Simon Amor’s Olympic Silver
Simon Amor’s OH (1997) rugby career has been more distinguished than most, both as a player and a coach, but it’s likely that nothing will top his Olympic 7s campaign with Great Britain in 2016.
As Head Coach of the star-studded team which travelled to Rio de Janeiro in 2016, Amor steered Great Britain to an exceptional campaign, beating traditional rugby powerhouses New Zealand and South Africa on their way to the final.
Amor was blessed with the availability of XV-a-side stars like Marcus Watson, Mark Bennett and James Davies, as well as being able to call upon England 7s flyer Dan Norton, who is the leading all-time try scorer in rugby sevens history.
GB’s campaign began brilliantly, as they came away with a 31-7 victory over perennial dark horses Kenya. Meanwhile, however, unlikely competitors and fellow group competitors Japan had thrown a spanner in the works after beating the legendary All Blacks. This meant that GB’s next game, against the Japanese themselves, became all the more important.
But in a tense clash, Amor’s blend of experience and verve came through, winning 21-19, with his team showing the grit they would need to secure an Olympic medal.
The challenges were far from over, though, as the All Blacks awaited, intent on avoiding defeat and securing a place in the Cup competition the next day. Despite conceding 19 consecutive second-half points, GB’s three first-half tries were enough to come through on the right side of another 21-19 scoreline and set up a quarter-final clash against Argentina.
Having squeezed through two tense encounters since their convincing opening-match victory, Team GB could’ve been forgiven for hoping for some respite in their quarter final. Needless to say, it was not the case: Amor’s men were engaged in a pulsating, draining knockout match.
The two teams were locked at 0-0 after full-time – a complete rarity for the 7s format – meaning the match went to golden point. And GB did enough to win, as Dan Bibby surged through to score in extra time and ensure Amor’s team’s place in the semi-final.
The challenge wasn’t getting any easier: this time, the exceptional South Africa awaited Amor’s men. Again, Great Britain avoided the easy route, but showed stellar defence to come through with a 7-5 win against the odds.
In the final, however, Amor’s team would face their greatest test yet – the overwhelming tournament favourites, Fiji. Coached by his national counterpart Ben Ryan, Fiji proved a match too far for Great Britain, and they won 43-7 to consign Amor’s men to silver medals instead of the gold they’d dreamed of.
But silver represented a formidable achievement for the Old Hamptonian, who had set out to Rio unsure of what to expect from a team short of competitive action together against sides who’d been preparing for the Olympic challenge for years.
It’s unclear whether Amor will take charge of the Great British 7s team again in Tokyo next Summer, but he has already achieved a great deal in his short coaching career to date.
Josh Bartholomew, Hampton Sports Chronicle Editor
Features, Hampton's Greatest Sporting Moments, Rugby, Summer 2020
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