Rugby Inside Line sat down with rising England Sevens star, Will Muir. Having originally risen to stardom while playing for Northumbria University in the BUCS Super Rugby competition, Will has gone on to represent England across the world and was named the 2019 England Sevens Player of the Year.
RIL: How did you initially become involved with England Sevens?
Will Muir: In my second year at Northumbria University, I was part of the men’s squad that won the National BUCS Sevens title, as well as representing Newcastle Falcons in the Premiership Singha Sevens. Shortly after, I was invited to go on a tour of South Africa with the England Sevens academy.
RIL: How did you find your first full season as part of the senior squad?
Will Muir: It was a pretty tough year being a part of a professional programme for the first time. There’s such an incredible coaching team that have taught me so much in such high detail. There are also some of the most experienced sevens players in the world, who went to great lengths to guide me through the year, which has made it such an incredible experience.
RIL: Which is your favourite stop on the Sevens circuit and why?
Will Muir: It would have to be Cape Town, it’s such an amazing stadium and the fans absolutely love rugby sevens, which always makes it such a fantastic atmosphere.
RIL: Are there any members of the England Sevens squad in particular who have helped you develop your game?
Will Muir: Having two legends of the game, James Rodwell and Phil Burgess, to help me with set piece and aerials has been very beneficial. Getting to hear that kind of first-hand knowledge is always invaluable.
RIL: How did you initially find the transition from Rugby Union to Sevens?
Will Muir: It was an interesting transition as I didn’t have much experience playing Sevens, so it took me a while to get used to the principles of creating and utilising space. Through my eyes, it’s a very different game and I still feel that there’s a lot for me to learn and I’m trying to take on board as much as I can in each session.
RIL: Tell me a little bit about your experience of BUCS Super Rugby and how you feel this propelled you to where you are now.
Will Muir: I first played in the BUCS Super Rugby league when Darren Fearn took over as Head Coach at Northumbria University. Without a doubt, he transformed the programme into a much more professional environment. This was so exciting to be a part of and playing against the best university teams in the country really encouraged development. I feel that BUCS Super Rugby really exposes players to the professional scene, you just have to look at players like Alex Dombrandt, George Wacokecoke, Oli Robinson and Jake Ellwood.
RIL: How do you feel player welfare is managed in BUCS Super Rugby?
Will Muir: The strength and conditioning (S&C) setup was something I wasn’t used to as I had never really followed a tailored gym programme before, but it was very flexible around studies, so we could train when it was convenient. I was performing a lot of different lifts and movements that were unfamiliar to me, so the expert S&C coaches would often spend a lot of time correcting my technique and most importantly, ensuring that what I was doing was safe. We had an amazing team physio, who was always at our training sessions and matches, and considering that she oversaw a number of different teams at Northumbria, she often had a lot on her plate but still found the time to look after the whole squad regardless.
RIL: What are your short and long-term ambitions as part of the England Sevens squad?
Will Muir: A short-term goal of mine is returning from my shoulder injury and getting stuck into pre-season training. I want to put myself into the best position possible for selection for Dubai in December. A season-long aspiration would be to perform consistently to give myself the best chance of representing England at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
RIL: Do any matches that you were a part of last season standout in particular and why?
Will Muir: Sydney Sevens 3rdplace final against Fiji definitely stands out. We had finished 9thin Hamilton the week before and we regrouped and really bounced back in Sydney. We always knew Fiji was going to be a tough game but the whole squad really stepped up and managed to secure the bronze medal. I think that mentality is important to have throughout any team, to dig deep and bounce back.
RIL: Finally, who do you think will win The Rugby World Cup and why?
Will Muir: I’m honestly leaning towards England! Looking at the squad that has been selected, I’m genuinely excited. It will be amazing to watch Ruaridh McConnochie have the opportunity to showcase what he can do – he’s an amazing player and really helped me in my first few months with England.