9 December 2005
England's Dubai double was a great start in the IRB Sevens Series, the team having taken the Dubai title last season and turning in a thrilling squad performance from the likes of Newcastle's Mathew Tait and Leicester winger Tom Varndell.
With three new caps and the majority of players having only played a handful of international sevens tournaments, England Sevens Coach Mike Friday 's young squad arrived in Dubai to defend their Emirates trophy. Day one saw victories over Kenya, Uganda and Australia to take England to the top of their pool. They faced a tough semi final challenge from Samoa but an exciting last minute try from Varndell, with a successful conversion from sevens captain Simon Amor (Gloucester) meant England faced a re-run of last year's final against World Cup winners Fiji.
Varndell, who made England Rugby history with his sevens debut just five days after earning his first England cap against Samoa at Twickenham, scored two tries taking his tournament tally to ten, and winning the Player of the Tournament trophy. Mike Friday paid tribute to the 20 year old winger but said it was not just about one player's performance, "Varndell was outstanding and deserved his trophy, but at the same time we won this tournament thanks to the 110% effort of the whole 12 man squad. Every single player justified their place in the side and with so many youngsters and uncapped players in the squad it really was a fantastic effort. We are thrilled to have won the Dubai title again but now we must focus on George and ensuring we perform consistently well during the whole IRB Sevens series."
Friday added, "To travel to Dubai and learn how to prepare both physically and mentally for an international sevens tournament is a great learning curve for these players. They are playing in front of 30,000 screaming fans and playing six highly competitive matches in two days in 90 degree heat. I am confident that every single player will benefit and improve by being part of this experience."
Now the weekend promises a real challenge for the England Sevens squad. As the George leg kicks off the players are all looking forward to a mighty battle and getting ready for the fray.
England have never won back to back tournaments before, a fact that is really motivating the players who would dearly love to make rugby history. They are in a tough pool, which includes Samoa, and the George title really is up for grabs. So watch this space at www.rfu.com/sevens
Dubai was the first leg of the IRB Sevens which culminates at Twickenham in June. England will also be part of Team England at the Commonwealth Games in March