- Cracknell, Phillips and Odejobi return for England Sevens
- England look to defend their European crown
Photo: Getty Images
England Sevens Head Coach Ben Ryan has named a much changed line-up for England’s defence of the FIRA Sevens Grand Prix which starts in Lyon this weekend.
Ryan has made six changes to the squad that finished third at the Marriott London Sevens last month for England’s last tournament ahead of the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow later this month (June 28-30).
The England Head Coach welcomes back seasoned Sevens duo Chris Cracknell and Ollie Phillips from injury. Cracknell last played for England in Australia in 2012 whilst Phillips has been side-lined since December 2012.
New Sevens signings Alex Gray, previously of London Irish, and Phillip Burgess of Cornish Pirates, are set to make their first starts for England and will certainly be looking to impress ahead of World Cup selection.
Tom Mitchell captains England with Rob Vickerman rested and is joined by James Rodwell, John Brake, Christian Lewis-Pratt, Sam Edgerley and Mat Turner, who all guided England to recent third place finishes in both the Glasgow and London legs of the HSBC World Sevens Series.
Ryan said: “We love playing in Lyon and can't wait to play and defend the title we have won there the last two years.
"Six of our squad from the Glasgow and London legs of the HSBC World Sevens Series have been left at home to give others a chance to stake a claim for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Russia in three weeks’ time. Competition has been intense in training and it’s important we give as many of the squad a chance to impress.
“It's also been great to get Alex and Phil quickly into the programme and their debuts this weekend will continue to accelerate their integration into international sevens, whilst it’s been a long hard road for Chris and Ollie.
“Both Chris and Ollie are quality players returning from injury and like me, they must be delighted they are back on the field and playing the game they love. They are both really excited.”
England face Spain, Wales, Georgia, the Ukraine and Romania in their pool matches and will then be hoping to book their place in the knock out stages on Sunday as they look to win a third European title on the bounce. The second and final round of the European Grand Prix Series takes place in Bucharest in September.
Tom Mitchell (captain)