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Old foes for England Sevens on Gold Coast

07 November 2011

  • England face Scotland, Wales and Tonga at Gold Coast Sevens
  • Head Coach Ben Ryan pleased with European preparations
Sevens stars James Rodwell (L) and Chris Cracknell celebrate in Dubai

Photo: Getty Images

England will face two familiar opponents and one wildcard side on the opening day of this season's HSBC Sevens World Series.

Ben Ryan’s side have been drawn against Scotland, Wales and Tonga in Pool D of the Gold Coast Sevens in Australia on November 25-26 – the first stage of the nine-event global campaign.

Last season's champions New Zealand are in Pool A with Fiji, Kenya and Niue, Pool B is comprised of runners-up South Africa, Australia, USA and Japan, and Pool C includes Samoa, Argentina, France and Papua New Guinea.

England warmed-up for the series in Elche, Spain, last week, beating Scotland 24-14 and Wales 26-1, but head coach Ryan is anticipating tight games against the domestic rivals as well as Tong –  who qualified through the Oceania finals – on the opening day at Skilled Park in Queensland.

"It's always tough to play Scotland and Wales, and Tonga are the hardest of the four qualifying teams and have some good recent form behind them in the Oceania Sevens;  every pool is going to be difficult," said Ryan.

After Gold Coast the teams move directly to tournaments in Dubai (December 2-3) and Port Elizabeth (December 9-10). In the New Year they compete in Wellington, Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Edinburgh before the conclusion at Twickenham on May 12-13.

England Sevens wing Dan Norton races clear for a try at the Wellington Sevens

Photo: Getty Images

England's build-up included a summer European Grand Prix series in Lyon, Moscow, Barcelona and Budapest as well as this month's games in Elche, giving important added playing-time to the younger members of a squad that finished third in the series last season.

"Normally they're plunged straight into Dubai [previously the opening venue] in the first tournament and they've had no real international sevens experience," said Ryan, who is due to name his squad for the opening stage on Thursday.

"This time around a lot of our guys played in Europe in three or four tournaments and that's meant they feel more relaxed about what we're trying to do and our systems and the same is the case for Scotland, Wales, France, Portugal and Spain and all the other teams that took part. It's been great and certainly it'll help us perform better in the World Series.

"There's quite a lot of continuity so there's lads that have played 15-20 tournaments and nearly all of them have hit finals for England which is important that we've had some success so there's that bit of belief there.

"We've changed a lot of our on-field stuff and we've had a bit of a spring-clean technically about what we're doing and it's an ongoing system that we're trying to bed in but we're quite excited about the next chapter."

England Sevens pair Simon Hunt and John Brake celebrate a victory

Photo: Getty Images

The Gold Coast is a new venue – previous Australian tournaments have been in Adelaide – and a new opening leg for the HSBC Sevens World Series.

Ryan said: I hear ticket sales have gone fantastically well, we're going to have a fast field there and it's going to be well-supported. It's a good venue, they’re sports mad up there, they'll run it really well and I couldn't be more pleased with the start."

Tickets are now available for the London Sevens weekend on May 12 and 13 2012, with weekend passes starting from £30, single day tickets from £18 and kids tickets at £5 each day.