Phillips takes sevens creed to Brazil
Ollie Phillips (R), hands Brazilian and British flags to children before a match with residents of the Rocinha favela at Flamengo beach in an initiative supported by the Rio 2016 Organizing Commitee's Education Department on October 9, 2013
But the part-time sea dog reverted to type on Wednesday, taking time out to coach Brazilian schoolchildren on the beach.
Some of the niceties of the line out and scrum etiquette were lost on the youngsters from the Diadora district of northern Rio, which will host Rugby Sevens at the 2016 Olympics.
Rugby is just taking root in soccer-obsessed Brazil.
"But there is so much enthusiasm and great potential. The atmosphere is going to be just great at the Games," said Phillips.
"The Sevens format is so exciting and will suit Rio down to the ground."
The 31-year-old told AFP he was thrilled to discover the 2016 Games host city after 29 days at sea aboard the Great Britain yacht.
"It's my first time in South America -- I can't wait for the Games," the former England sevens skipper told AFP.
Former Newcastle Falcons, Stade Francais and Gloucester star Phillips, the 2009 IRB World Sevens Player of the Year, revealed yachting had brought a new dimension to his development as an athlete.
"It's hugely rewarding and I have learned a lot about myself," he said.
Phillips added that he had been thrilled to have an opportunity to coach local youngsters.
"Many have never seen a rugby ball before. For me it was an easy sell -- rugby on the beach! I hope to be back for the Games," when Sevens will make its Olympic debut.
Phillips, now on a full time Sevens contract with the RFU, said he had fond memories, meanwhile, of his spell with Top 14 outfit Stade Francais between 2009 and 20011.
Though injury ultimately cut short his time in France, Phillips said he felt certain similarities between Paris and Rio.
"I had a fabulous time in France and it taught me a lot of things. I feel an affinity with Latin countries.
"Here, I visited the Santa Teresa district, which reminds me rather of Montmartre," in the old heart of Paris, a magnet for tourists and which gives off a similarly bohemian vibe.
Phillips will set sail again this weekend for the next leg of the Clipper Race, bound for Cape Town.
The race is due to end in London on July 12 -- just in time, perhaps, to put his feet up and watch the round ball with the World Cup final due a day later?
"We'll see if England make it. I'll probably still be on a boat after leaving Holland," he laughed, conscious his vessel is scheduled to leave the Dutch port of Den Helder bound for London on July 10.