- Ryan hands captaincy to former Leeds and Newcastle centre
- Senior England boss pays tribute to 'outstanding professional'
Stuart Lancaster has paid tribute to Rob Vickerman after the former Leeds Carnegie and Newcastle Falcons centre was named as the new England Sevens captain.
Vickerman will lead the side in the remaining two legs of this season’s HSBC Sevens World Series – the Glasgow Sevens this weekend and the Marriott London Sevens at Twickenham on May 12-13.
England Head Coach Lancaster recruited the teenaged Vickerman while at Leeds and described the 26 year-old as an "outstanding professional in both forms of the game".
Lancaster said: "I’d like to congratulate Rob on his appointment and wish him, [head coach] Ben Ryan and the England Sevens players and management the best for the final two legs of the series.
"I started working with Rob when he was a teenager at the Leeds Academy. He was and still is one of the best players I have coached with an instinctive understanding of time and space on a rugby field. He has developed into an outstanding professional in both forms of the game, first at Leeds, then at Newcastle Falcons and now as a full-time sevens player with England.
Photo: Getty Images
"He’s a great communicator on and off the field, someone who leads by example and I’m sure he’ll be a great ambassador for England Rugby."
Vickerman banked more than 50 top-flight appearances for Leeds and Newcastle before joining England’s full-time sevens squad.
He accepted the captaincy honour by singling out Lancaster’s influence and added that his mentor's success as England head coach came as no surprise to him.
"Stuart’s a person who was never going to end up anywhere other than where he is now," said Vickerman. "He’s a real leader of men, he’s very aware of how he manages and of his principles he’s learned at Leeds and with the RFU.
"He’s helped me in leaps and bounds and has been one of the most influential people in my life, not just my career, so it’s great to see him doing well.
"There was no doubt in my mind that he would succeed with England. To anyone who has worked with him and knows his philosophies in terms of the culture in the team, it’s no surprise."
England are fourth in this season’s HSBC Sevens World Series table after seven of the nine legs, behind New Zealand, Fiji and South Africa in the standings.
The current series is arguably the most competitive ever. Five different nations have won individual titles – England defending their Dubai crown in December – and the challenge is to finish the campaign on a high.
Ryan’s side face Kenya, the USA and Australia in Saturday’s pool stages and Vickerman insists the change of leadership won’t affect his or the team’s focus.
Photo: Getty Images
"The captaincy is a great honour and something I know my family will be very proud of but it takes nothing away from what we are looking to achieve as a team,” he said.
"Sevens is a completely different format from 15s and it’s far more about seven people leading on the pitch, 12 leading in the squad and then a wider squad of 20 performing week-in, week-out in training.
"It’s a lovely accolade for my family more than anything else and it’s going to make no difference to the way I play. The goal this week is to perform. We want to be in an environment where we’re enjoying what we’re doing, we’re working hard and being enthusiastic."
England Sevens Squad
Dan Bibby (UWIC), John Brake, Chris Brightwell, Chris Cracknell, Sam Edgerley (Rosslyn Park), Tom Mitchell (Oxford University), Dan Norton, Mark Odejobi (Brunel University), Tom Powell, James Rodwell, Mathew Turner, Rob Vickerman.
HSBC Sevens World Series standings (top six): 1 New Zealand 128 pts, 2 Fiji 122, 3 South Africa 105, 4 England 104, 5 Samoa 101, 6 Australia 84
You can buy tickets for the Marriott London Sevens via RFU.com, with weekend tickets from £30, with single day tickets from £18 and kids tickets from £5 each day.