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Ben Ryan column: Getting balance right at business end of season

02 May 2013

  • England have worked hard in build up to climax of HSBC Sevens World Series
  • Team and coaches have taken game to new audience in development sessions
Dan Norton in action against New Zealand at last year's Glasgow Sevens final

Photo: Getty Images

“You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.”

It is fair to say the next couple of months are busy. First is Glasgow this weekend and then comes the Marriott London Sevens in front of what should be another record crowd.

Once London ends the World Series for the season we take a breath, play some warm-up tournaments which includes the start of defending our European title in Lyon, and then before you know it we’re off to Russia and the Rugby World Cup Sevens. The next eight weeks will be over before we can blink.

When you’re running a high-performance programme, you have to get the balance right between over-training and rest. Get that wrong in the next few weeks and all your plans can have the wind taken out of their sails on and off the field. It’s a great challenge and one we have worked hard at getting right.

The last few weeks have been really tough for the team and they have had some very hard sessions when it comes to both the physical and technical sides of the game.

More players returning from injury means we have had more competition on the field and competition for places has been driven up as a result. We’re still a few short with injury but we have more players fit and available than we’ve had all year and it’s made a big difference.

Playing in the UK is also a big advantage to European teams and for us it meant we could stay in London at our training base right up until we travelled to the team hotel in Glasgow on Wedneday.

All our hard work has been done now, some great test results posted and now it’s about getting the team to the start line this weekend in good shape, rested and ready to perform.

For sure, it’s going to be the most competitive tournament leg to date as so many teams have so much to fight for. Relegation looms for some, titles and positions for others and all will have one eye on Russia and momentum to carry into the World Cup. 

For us, it’s about us. We have finally moved away from the horrendous injury run we got in tournaments one to three. With that, the return to form began. Never underestimate how injuries for key players can really disrupt the balance of a side and it’s been a season that has actually bonded everyone together more tightly.

Strong team spirit

I have been so pleased with the collective spirit these last few weeks and our captain Rob Vickerman and the rest of the squad have really worked hard and smart. Their efforts and ability won’t go unrewarded over these next couple of months but we know with sevens you have to keep on top of the game all of the time.

Flicking that collective and individual switch to perform will be crucial for all teams and I cannot wait to see all the great work that has been done translated into games this weekend and beyond. 

Off the field it’s been a great few weeks, too. Coach Russell Earnshaw, myself and the rest of the England management and squad have been around the country delivering coach and player education sessions.

More than 350 coaches attended and a huge percentage of our talented academy players took part, too. I really enjoyed meeting all the hugely talented and committed players and coaches out there and spending time talking and delivering all things sevens.

It was the start of something that needs to grow over the next few years in a collective strategy to spread the game and improve the pathways. Stuart Lancaster often talks about “England Connected” and we all really felt we were part of that these last few weeks.

Come on England!