- Four wins and 23 tries on opening day of European GP series
- Newcomers Hodgson, Williams and Shires all on the scoresheet
England completed a clean sweep on day one of the FIRA AER European Grand Prix Sevens series with four impressive wins in Lyon.
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They beat Ukraine 26-0, Spain 46-0, Scotland 31-19 and Georgia 34-7 and will be in the semi finals on Sunday against either Wales, Russia or 2011 European champions Portugal.
England use this three-tournament series – they visit Moscow and Odense over the coming month – to bed in new signings, look at new talent and road test new tactics outside the pressurised atmosphere of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
But despite being without the likes of half-a-dozen World Series stars – including leading scorers Mat Turner and Dan Norton - they still touched down 23 tries in the four games and the eight-try win against Spain was impressively slick.
Joel Hodgson (Newcastle Falcons) scored on his first appearance in an England Sevens shirt against Ukraine with full-time sevens players Tom Powell, Dan Bibby and Nick Royle following him over the line.
Head coach Ben Ryan called the win against Spain an “outstanding team effort” with Royle (2), John Brake (2), newcomer Jack Preece (2), Bibby and Bristol Rugby wing Matt Williams on the scoresheet.
Another two tries from Royle and one each from Hodgson, Tynedale’s Sam Shires – a late replacement for the injured Tom Mitchell – and Powell saw off Scotland, who touched down through Rory Hughes, Lewis Young and Andrew Skeen.
Powell (2), Brake (2), Royle and Jeff Williams all struck against Georgia and England have one remaining pool match to negotiate against the Netherlands at the start of day two.