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Ryan: All we care about is doing our best for England

29 November 2012

  • England Sevens Head Coach Ben Ryans hasn't forgotten the disappointment of the opening leg
  • In his column he tells us that a reshaped team can start putting things right in Dubai

I haven’t found writing this particularly easy for a few reasons. Success for England in Dubai won’t be affected by what is written or what is said about us. Don’t get me wrong. I really enjoy giving the wider public and England Rugby supporters an insight into what has been happening in preparations on and off the field. But this tournament we need to do all our talking on the field.

England Sevens Head Coach Ben Ryan

Photo: Getty Images

Our disappointment at the first leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series in the Gold Coast hasn’t been forgotten. Fine margins meant we didn’t make the quarter finals but we all put our hands up and accepted it was our fault we didn’t do better in Australia. Injuries and ill luck happen to everyone and we should never them as an excuse.

It was embarrassing, though, and I felt physically sick having to walk into the office when we returned home the following week.

To say I hate losing is something of an understatement and all the team went through a difficult period straight after returning. It threw a few of the team that a game of rugby could affect us that much.

No-one died and no catastrophic accident occurred, but because we all care so much it did matter to us. It mattered a lot. Criticism and negative comments to a large extent swept over us all. The greater feelings came from within.

So… forgive me for putting all the great things that are laid on for us in Dubai aside for now. I haven’t registered that stuff. All we care about is doing our very best for England. It’s more than a requirement. It’s a duty.

This weekend’s England squad has some new players to talk about.

Last year, Ollie Marchon was in the crowd watching us win the title. He never thought his long road back from injury five years ago would put him on the same pitch, in the same shirts, of the players he cheered on the year before. He feels blessed and he doesn’t want to let the opportunity pass him by.

England Sevens debutant James Lightfoot-Brown

Photo: Getty Images

James Lightfoot-Brown was a 15 year-old ballboy at Twickenham Stadium when we won the London Sevens in 2008. Four years on, there will be a few 15 year-old ball boys throwing him the ball this weekend and dreaming of being him.

James looks very young and I have seen some of the other teams around the hotel look at him as if he shouldn’t be here. But I can tell you, this kid can play and he is brave beyond compare.

In the days of professionalism, increased salaries and talk of the latest boots or colour of your kit, it is easy to miss why we love this game and what’s really important. These two players remind everyone in the side of how lucky they are and how it’s the game, what we do between the white lines, that drives us all on. Come On England!


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