England Rugby Sevens Team hand over Ollie Phillips

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The England Sevens Rugby squad turned out in force today to set their former Captain off as he prepares to take on one of the world’s toughest endurance challenges.

England Rugby Sevens player Ollie Philips will be putting his strength and stamina to the ultimate test when he sets sail in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, starting Sunday, September 1 from Tower Bridge, London. The England international rugby sevens player - who previously captained the team in the IRB Sevens World Series and was named 2009 IRB World Sevens Player of the Year - will be part of the GREAT Britain team while he recovers from a calf tear that has temporarily put him out of rugby. 

Ollie Phillips will officially kick-start his ‘Road to Rio’ campaign when the race arrives in Rio at the end of Leg 1 in early October.  The player aims to return to the Brazilian city to represent Great Britain in the first Olympic Rugby Sevens event in 2016, before retiring from international competition. 

Ollie describes his participation in the 40,000-mile, 11 month race as his toughest challenge to date:  “I think that mentally, physically and emotionally it is going to push me to my limits, but that is something that I look forward to facing and overcoming.”

Current England Sevens Captain, Rob Vickerman said:  “The team are all very proud of Ollie and support him fully in his Clipper Race challenge. We’re looking forward to following his adventures as he sails around the world and are wishing him and his GREAT Britain team mates a very safe and successful journey.”

The 30-year-old was selected to join the GREAT Britain team after his rugby season ended early through injury. He will join the GREAT Britain team at the Clipper Race’s first stop in Brest, France in early September after completing a charity cycle ride from London to Brussels for the Alzheimer’s Society. He will ride in honour of his grandmother who he lost to the disease in June 2012.

“I hope through all these challenges and events, I can increase awareness and help to continue the fight against dementia. My grandmother's health deteriorated so quickly following her diagnosis that I decided to do something to help fight this terrible disease.

“I have an ambition to play at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games for Great Britain. I'm immensely proud to know that part of my mental and physical journey towards fulfilling that ambition will be tested and conquered under the sails of the GREAT Britain Clipper Race yacht!”

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, founder and chairman of the Clipper Race and the first person to sail solo, non-stop around the world back in 1968-69, added, “I have no doubt that Ollie will be a great crew member for the GREAT Britain entry. As a seasoned team player with a competitive spirit, I am sure he will make himself and his team extremely proud.”

During the 40,000-mile, 11 month race Ollie plans to lead a programme of unique rugby sevens themed activities at many of the 15 stopover destinations, to help raise the profile of the sport internationally. The programme of events will aim to broaden sporting opportunities and inspire confidence within the next generation of sportsmen and women around the world.