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Inside England Sevens VI: Ben Ryan column

09 February 2012

  • England touch down in Las Vegas for this weekend's USA Sevens
  • Brazil, Scotland and Kenya the first hurdles to clear in group stage
England Sevens head coach Ben Ryan

Photo: Getty Images 

Here we are in Vegas! Playing an international tournament here has its obvious distractions but all our focus has been on getting team and management back up to full battery life.

Our journey from New Zealand was horrendous. It took more than 26 hours with long stop-overs in Auckland and Los Angeles and in the cramped cabins on the planes, the bigger lads especially struggled to get any rest. The travel and the fatigue of the Wellington tournament meant we have scaled back our training to make sure we are all full of the joys of spring this week.

The Hertz Sevens was really pleasing in performance terms. We played as well as we have all season and in the semi final against New Zealand certainly felt we did enough to win.

There were a couple of critical things that didn’t go our way when we were 12-0 and 12-5 up that probably would have sealed the game for us but that’s how it is sometimes and as long as we learn from it then we will continue to move forward.

It’s a big disappointment not to win a tournament and that is the same at every event we enter. That’s the standard we have set ourselves and it’s so tight at the top that if the extra time result had gone our way then a potential five-point swing with NZ would have put us first in the HSBC Sevens World Series rankings and them third. The reverse is true now though and that means we sit behind Fiji and NZ with South Africa hot on our heels and playing some good stuff.

So, Vegas becomes a pretty important tournament for us and it's a different format in several ways.

The 55-metre width of the pitch is 15 metres narrower than the others we play on. That means it will be harder to make line-breaks in wide channels and does negate some of the speed we have. So, a little tactical change is required to make sure we use the pitch as an advantage.

The tournament is also played over three days to make sure NBC get the coverage and timings they want, so two games a day means two group games on friday, the final group game and hopefully a quarter final on Saturday, and finally the semi finals and finals of the Cup, Plate, Bowl and Shield on Sunday.

Colourful fans in the stands at the Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas

Photo: Getty Images

Add all those changes to the travel and it’s a testing week for all the teams. But we are pretty good at dealing with all the curve balls we get and I’m certain we will be ready to go for the first game on Friday afternoon.

It’s a great challenge to put all of the last few days behind us and come bouncing out at Sam Boyd Stadium this weekend, and though probably a little over-caffeinated, I’m very excited about this weekend and the team we have.

If there is one thing I can rely on it is that despite all the hustle and bustle of Sin City around us, the lads will focus on giving everything for their country on the field this weekend. Another great weekend in the HSBC Sevens World Series awaits. Come on England!