- Head coach Ben Ryan puts journalists through the mill
- Gollings, Cracknell, Norton and Co show off skills
Photo: Richard Lane
England started the final stage of their build-up to the Emirates Airline London Sevens by putting the media through their paces at Twickenham Stadium.
The team are chasing a tournament victory over the May 21-22 weekend to close the gap on HSBC Sevens World Series leaders New Zealand going into the final leg of the global competition at Murrayfield.
Twenty journalists joined head coach Ben Ryan and the squad on the pitch, giving writers and broadcasters the chance to test their speed and skills alongside the likes of Ben Gollings, Chris Cracknell and Dan Norton.
Rugby World, the Sunday Times, CNN, the Press Association, the Evening Standard, Sport Magazine and Men’s Health were among those who took part in the skills session and conditioned games.
IRB.com journalist Tom Chick won a signed England shirt after being judged the Player of the Day by Ryan, with Rugby World editor Paul Morgan deemed the Most Enthusiastic Participant.
Morgan said: "On behalf of all the media I'd like to thank Ben Ryan and the players for giving us a run out and getting an idea of not only how good they are but how big the pitch at Twickenham is!
Sevens is only going to get bigger as we head towards the 2016 Olympic Games and I'm sure the Emirates Airline London Sevens this year will be a magnificent event."
Photo: Richard Lane
Alex Lowe from the Press Association said: "When you're on the pitch with them you realise just how good these elite sportsmen are, how fast they are and how quick their feet are.
It was great to be able to get a flavour of what the England Sevens players go through on a daily basis and to see Ben Ryan's tough side. He demanded high standards of the players even when they were messing around with the media and that gives you an insight into how seriously they aspire to be the very best on the world."
The event was staged by the Rugby Football Union and tournament and England Sevens sponsors Emirates and attended by the London Sevens official charity partner The Prostate Cancer Charity.
The charity's ambassador and England rugby legend Roger Uttley said: "The Prostate Cancer Charity recognises the importance of sport as a platform to reach men, to raise awareness of prostate cancer and help raise funds to tackle it.
My close friend and fellow teammate Andy Ripley, who died from prostate cancer in June last year, brought the charity much closer to the rugby world. Andy's decision to speak very publicly about his own battle with prostate cancer and his support of this charity has encouraged rugby players and fans the world over to help fight prostate cancer and be far more aware of this disease."
As part of the partnership, the charity will be at Twickenham for the Emirates Airline London Sevens helping to get rugby fans thinking about their health. As well as helping the charity to raise awareness, the RFU will also make a £5 donation for every ticket sold through the charity’s website. Visit www.prostate-cancer.org.uk/fundraising.
Tickets are still available for both days of the Emirates Airline London Sevens via RFU.com, priced from £15 for adults.