Tuesday 28th February 2006
The Commonwealth Games Council for England today (Tuesday) announced the 15-man Team England rugby sevens squad who will travel to the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games.
The squad contains a balance of experienced sevens players including Dan Luger MBE, Magnus Lund and Ben Gollings and some of the exciting youngsters who have earned selection through impressive performances so far this season. England sevens captain Simon Amor will lead the side.
The squad depart for Australia on Sunday 5th March and will be reduced to the 12-man playing squad prior to the tournament, which begins in Melbourne on Thursday 16th March.
England sevens Coach Mike Friday admitted selection was tough, "I am really pleased with the squad we are taking. The Commonwealth Games will be one of the biggest occasions in these players lives and it was incredibly hard to just choose 15 players. The squad sees a few of the more experienced players return to the fold including Magnus Lund, Ben Lewitt and Richard Haughton.
"Magnus played England Sevens in the 2002/03 season and will bring strength and experience to the side. Simon (Amor) is an inspirational captain and only Simon, Ben Gollings and Henry Paul have experienced a Commonwealth Games before so I will be looking to them to lend their experience to the youngsters," he added. "I truly believe that this squad includes some of the future stars of England Rugby and this experience will be an integral part of their player development.
"We have some extremely talented young players such as Tom Varndell, Mathew Tait, Dave Seymour,Ben Russell and 19 year old Danny Care.
"It is important to remember that this is the 15 man travelling squad. Only 12 players can be selected for the Games so there is still everything to play for in terms of earning their place in the team."
The 15 man squad for the Commonwealth Games is:
Simon AMOR (Gloucester) Captain
Danny CARE (Leeds Tykes)
Ben GOLLINGS (Sunnybank, Australia)
Richard HAUGHTON (Saracens)
Ben LEWITT (Northampton Saints)
Dan LUGER (unattached)
Magnus LUND (Sale Sharks)
Nils MORDT (London Irish)
Henry PAUL (Gloucester)
Ben RUSSELL (Saracens)
David SEYMOUR (Saracens)
David STRETTLE (Rotherham)
Mathew TAIT (Newcastle Falcons)
Tom VARNDELL (Leicester Tigers)
Andy VILK (Northampton Saints)
Speaking on his selection, Simon Amor said, "I am absolutely thrilled to be given this chance. The Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002 was one of the highlights of my career but losing there was also one of the most disappointing moments of my life. I am really looking forward to having the chance to go to Australia, make up for the loss four years ago and do everything we can to bring back the gold medal for England."
One of the most experienced players in the squad is Dan Luger who has not played in Australia since being part of England's victorious Rugby World Cup squad in 2003. He said, "I am really looking forward to returning to Australia as part of an England squad. Playing sevens for England has been a real focus for me all season, and the Commonwealth Games have been in the back of my mind since the summer. I really enjoy playing sevens and pulling on the England shirt again for the first time since the Rugby World Cup felt fantastic. Playing sevens gives me a real buzz, and I would love the chance to play in Melbourne."
The squad depart for Australia on Sunday 5th March.