Ahead of the London leg of the Emirates Airline 7s this weekend, Head Coach Ben Ryan believes England have got a chance at the title.
Sitting in the table just behind New Zealand, England go into their home leg of this year’s tournament hoping that a big crowd will spur them on to victory. An estimated 110,000 fans are expected at Twickenham over the weekend, a feat that would set a new world record for attendance, highlighting the game’s impressive growth over the last couple of years.
No one is more delighted with the increase in interest than Ben Ryan, the England head coach, who stated that “the 7s in London is a great opportunity for someone who hasn’t experienced the game before to come down and see what it’s all about. It will be a terrific atmosphere.” With the game of Sevens rugby now an Olympic sport, Ryan predicts exciting things for the Sevens format after the games in 2016 in Brazil, with the expectation that “superstars will emerge literally overnight”.
Focusing on this weekend, Ryan reflected that England have had an excellent season, as they sit on course for their record points total ever for the tournament. The past year has seen plenty of new young stars coming into the side such as Marcus Watson from London Irish and the emergence of Harlequins flyer Ollie Lindsey-Hague, and Ryan commented that he was encouraged that despite his squad’s relative inexperience, they are only a couple of points behind leaders New Zealand in the overall standings. “They’ve been brilliant all around the world and are really champing at the bit for this one, especially as they’ll be playing in front of all of their friends and family.”
The surprise inclusion to the England squad is Toulon-bound London Irish flanker Steffon Armitage, who Ryan described as “world-class at turning over ball and around the breakdown” and crucial to England’s counter-attack. Armitage’s inclusion is a reflection of how seriously players of the full man game respect the Sevens format, and it will be interesting to watch how he gets on.
Tickets for the Emirates Airline London Sevens on May 21 & 22 are available from www.Ticketmaster.co.uk or by calling 0844 8472492.
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