- Mix of experience and young talent in squad for Lyon
- Ryan urges newcomers 'to show us what they've got'
Photo: Getty Images
Bristol wing Matt Williams and Newcastle Falcons half back Joel Hodgson will make their first England Sevens appearances in the opening round of the FIRA-AER European GP Sevens Series.
England will use this summer’s tournaments in Lyon (June 2-3), Moscow (June 30-July 1) and Odense (July 7-8) to integrate new recruits into their squad as well as monitoring the progress of others outside the full-time set-up.
Hodgson, 19, is a former England Under 18 star who made seven first team appearances for the Falcons this season, while Williams, 23, is acknowledged as one of the quickest men in the professional game.
They join new full-time signings Mike Ellery, Jack Preece, Dan Bibby and Jeff Williams in the group heading for France.
Ellery and Preece have joined from Moseley and Birmingham & Solihull respectively, while Bibby (UWIC) and Jeff Williams (RC Chateaurenard) made their debuts in this season’s HSBC Sevens World Series.
They feature alongside experienced campaigners John Brake, Tom Powell, Nick Royle, Rob Vickerman and Andy Vilk, as well as Aaron Myers (Westoe), who appeared in last year’s European tournaments.
England face Ukraine, Spain, Scotland and Georgia on the opening day of the competition and remaining Pool B opponents the Netherlands on day two before the knock-out stages get under way. They are the title holders after Brake’s hat-trick earned them a 28-14 win over Spain in last year’s final.
Photo: Getty Images
“These tournaments give us a great chance to bed new signings into our programme, have a look at some more for the future and for them all to show us what they’ve got,” said head coach Ben Ryan.
“We’ve been keeping an eye on the likes of Matt Williams for a couple of years now and this is a great opportunity for us to get to know him better and for him to show how he’s developed as a player.
“We’re also grateful to Newcastle for making Joel Hodgson available to us for the Lyon tournament. He’s a very fine young player and I’m pleased we can get him in an England Sevens shirt.
“The pressure in these tournaments isn’t as intense as it is in the HSBC Sevens World Series but the standard of sevens in Europe is now very high and that’s been demonstrated by sides like Spain and Portugal winning ‘core’ team status on the world series next season and Spain reaching a first-ever quarter final at the Marriott London Sevens.
“Over the next month we’ll get the chance to experiment a bit, look at new ideas and blood new players, and that should put us in a good place to start the build up to next season’s world series.”
England Sevens: Dan Bibby, John Brake, Mike Ellery, Joel Hodgson (Newcastle Falcons), Tom Powell, Nick Royle, Rob Vickerman, Andy Vilk (Rugby Lions), Jack Preece, Jeff Williams, Matt Williams (Bristol Rugby), Aaron Myers (Westoe).