Former Australian fullback Matt Burke has described his experience of playing in the Rugby World Cup Sevens at Murrayfield in 1993 as a perfect showcase before embarking on a glittering rugby career while citing the Emirates Airline Edinburgh 7s 2007 (2 and 3 June) as a great reason to have a weekend out in Scotland’s capital.
The Newcastle Falcons' captain, who is busy preparing for his side’s final Guinness Premiership match of the season against Bath this weekend, looked back on the inaugural RWC Sevens, held fourteen years ago this month, in which he played as an uncapped 20 year old.
He said: “I looked at it as a stepping stone to hopefully cementing a place in the Australian national side and sevens was perfect for showcasing my ability. Looking back we had the strongest team available to us with players like David Campese and Michael Lynagh but it was really my first tour and to go to a city like Edinburgh was outstanding.
“It was a lot of fun and we had a fantastic week but unfortunately we were beaten in the final by England. It was really my first time playing on the world stage and it was a great experience,” he added.
It was the first of many outings to Edinburgh for the 81 times capped Burke, who is Australia’s fourth all-time top try scorer behind Campese, Joe Roff and Tim Horan with 29 tries. Campese and Roff were both formidable sevens players in their day, giving substance to the philosophy that sevens is ideal for developing players.
On Scotland’s historic capital Burke said: “Edinburgh is probably one of my favourite cities. I’ve been fortunate enough to tour there a few times and I always look forward to coming up. We’ve got some friends in the city and it’s a good place to visit.
“I was coached by Bob Dwyer a few years back and he was passionate about rugby but also passionate about guys experiencing the culture on tour. Edinburgh is great for that because you open your door and you’ve got the likes of Edinburgh Castle right in front of you.
“People will come for the rugby spectacle but also for a cultural learning experience. You’ve got the benefits of the old and new world in one great place. The people are fantastic and they like watching good rugby. In a sevens tournament you get lots of access to the players and I’m sure that’ll go down well,” he added.
The stadium was under construction when Burke first came in 1993 but he now regards it as one of his favourite stadiums in world rugby. He said: “Murrayfield is possibly one of the world’s best stadiums purpose built for rugby and it’s outstanding. The atmosphere is great and the spectators are close to the pitch.
“The facilities for the players are first class but probably the best thing about it is the size and width of the field which allows you to play a very expansive game and throw the ball around. Sevens often comes down to a one on one situation so there will be plenty of room to play at Murrayfield in June.
“The sevens will be just up the road from here (Newcastle) and it’s a great reason to have a weekend in Edinburgh. The season will be finished down here and I’m sure people will head up for what will be a fantastic experience at Murrayfield.” he added.
On more immediate matters, Burke has his eyes on a strong finish this weekend in the Guinness Premiership clash with Bath Rugby. He said: “We’re playing a good brand of rugby and although we’re sitting mid table in the Guinness Premiership there’s still plenty to play for.
“We’ve got a big game to finish with and if we win we’ll certainly end on a high. We want to achieve our goals and the goals the team have set are important. Your last game always forms the basis for next season and our minds are focused on playing for the fans and for respect,” he added.
Like Burke, who will be next to launch their career as international sevens returns to Edinburgh this summer? For all the latest news on the Emirates Airline Edinburgh 7s and to purchase great value tickets visit www.edinburgh7s.com