- Has this been highest quality sevens series ever? Probably
- Proud of the side we've taken over the border to Glasgow
Another HSBC Sevens World Series nears its climax again and this season has flown by, literally!
The England squad have worked hard between the Tokyo leg and the Series debut of Glasgow this weekend and our medical staff have done wonders to get a few of the team with knocks fit for Scotland too.
In sevens, that doesn’t mean being fit enough to muddle through, it means 100 per cent ready to play back-to-back tournaments at the end of a season that has produced five different tournament winners and a highly-competitive environment.
Photo: Getty Images
Has it been the highest quality sevens the series has ever seen? Probably.
The game is on such an upward curve and the physical level of all the teams are easily the best it has been. Technically, I have seen some some fantastic games of rugby and tournaments too.
This Saturday and Sunday will be no different and I’m also sure the European teams will all have great showings. I’m writing this on my hour-long flight north and it’s so nice to only skip up over the UK rather than traversing the globe! That extra time has allowed for injuries more time to heal, for preparation to be deeper and for us to name the side as late as possible to keep competition high.
On Wednesday night the team made their way to the Marriott in Glasgow, and Thursday and Friday will be tapering training sessions before the pool games against Kenya, USA and Australia - all great teams.
Naturally, we have looked at all their previous games and the patterns they aim to play. However, as I’m sure is the case with a lot of teams, it is important as we near the climax of the season that we work on what we are good at and concentrate on how well we can do things.
I’m very excited about these next two legs and proud of the side we are bringing north of the border. In many ways the last few weeks have been a mini pre-season for us and everyone in the selected squad will be with us next season.
That has not always been the case, and injuries and absentees have affected selection a lot for the London and Scotland legs in the last two years.
So far it’s been a year of lots of very good progression and players emerging from our squad to become settled international sevens players.
We all have a lot of work to do but everyone is feeling a bit like me at the moment: that we are on the verge of a very special period for England Sevens. Training has been great with plenty of smiling, perspiration, niggle and ambition. For us to leave out quality rugby players like Andy Vilk and Simon Hunt with 50-plus tournaments between them for this leg shows how competitive it has been.
So, to the weekend. New Zealand and Fiji will both we desperate to take out the title and thus place one hand on the world title while South Africa will be keen to break their tournament title duck this season in the last two events.
Australia are riding a wave of confidence at the moment after winning Tokyo and Samoa have a new coach eager to impress now that Stevie Beatham is their head man.
Add in the traditionally strong showing of Scotland and Wales in the last two legs and you have all the ingredients for some fireworks over the next fortnight.
I can guarantee that it won’t be plain sailing for the top six sides and expect some big name casualties at some point in the games ahead as the series shows its strength in depth. It’s mouthwatering stuff, so I’ll see you there!
Follow Ben Ryan and England Sevens on Twitter @benjaminryan