Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
HSBC Sevens World Series leaders England have made just one change to their squad for the upcoming two legs of the World Series in Wellington, New Zealand and Las Vegas, USA.
Nick Royle comes into the 12-man squad in place of the injured Ollie Lindsay-Hague for the tournaments on February 4-5th (Wellington) and February 12-13th (Las Vegas) respectively. With the announcement of the English squad, Team USA know who they’re up against as they are set to face off against England in the pool stage in Wellington.
Having taken the Cup title at the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens and reached the final at the Emirates Airline South Africa Sevens, Ben Ryan’s men lead with 44 points from New Zealand (40) with reigning World Series champions Samoa and defending NZI Sevens champions Fiji third equal (36).
Royle, the 27-year-old former Widnes Vikings and Warrington Wolves wing, is a contracted England Sevens player and has been appearing alongside 2003 World Cup winner Jason Robinson for Fylde this season.
Royle joins a settled England squad again led by World Series All-Time points leader Ben Gollings and will be looking to help the number one seeds progress from a tricky pool in Wellington with matches against Wales, the USA and the Cook Islands.
Coach Ryan has been impressed with the work done so far in training on and off the field.
“We’ve been very critical of what we’ve done in the first two tournaments and it’s important that self-analysis has taken place. We’re still very disappointed that we didn’t take out New Zealand in the final at George,” he said.
“We’ve been back in training for two weeks now and we’ve used that time to really work hard on fitness and the players have come out of it with some outstanding scores measured in fitness tests and our GPS data.
“Now we go to a tournament at Wellington where we’ve had a bit of success in the last few years and what happens there and in Vegas has often been a turning point in the Series.
“We don’t want to give up being top of the pile and everybody will be looking at what we’ve done so far, so we’ll examine what we can do to adjust a few things over the next few weeks.”
England’s only previous victory at the NZI Sevens came in 2009, while their one success in the USA came in 2006.
England Squad: Greg Barden (Royal Navy), John Brake (England Sevens), Dan Caprice (England Sevens), Chris Cracknell (England Sevens), Isoa Damudamu (British Army), Ben Gollings (England Sevens, captain), Simon Hunt (Birmingham & Solihull), Dan Norton (Bristol Rugby), Tom Powell (England Sevens), James Rodwell (England Sevens), Nick Royle (England Sevens), Mathew Turner (England Sevens)