- England looking to build on third-place finish in Glasgow
- Ryan looking forward to record-breaking Twickenham weekend
Twickenham. We get one home event a year and this weekend is it. It has been great to prepare on home soil for a tournament and there is certainly a feeling among all the teams that the London Marriott Sevens is going to be a fitting climax to a helter-skelter HSBC World Sevens Series season.
The nations all made the very short journey from Glasgow to London this week and we are all staying in the same team hotel. This year we have moved across to Stamford Bridge and the hotel at Chelsea FC. The dining area looks out on to the pitch and it’s been a great venue for the teams to sample a small slice of London while focusing on preparations for the weekend.
We have knocks and niggles after Glasgow and all the squad have joined us for our field sessions this week to add competition and intensity. Last weekend we played pretty well. A few small errors cost us a possible spot in the final but we certainly put together some excellent performances and it’s given us a good foothold to build on this weekend.
It’s been interesting to see that a lot of teams have made changes for the last tournament. Some forced upon sides as injuries in Scotland mounted up. Others have managed to prise their overseas based players from their English clubs to bolster their ranks. It’s been a trend this year. The competition has been greater and sustaining performances over two consecutive weekends with the same players is tough. I don’t think any winning side in the second of a pair of tournaments has kept the same 12 players from the first tournament.
There has also been one eye on World Cup preparation for all teams as we get closer to Moscow next month. Match play is crucial for your side so if countries are going to make significant changes to their squad then some will begin that process now to start forming connections on the field. It certainly looks like both Fiji and Samoa, two of our London group opponents have started that journey and with Argentina, one of our World Cup pool opponents, they make up a challenging pool for us on Saturday.
Our pool composition shows just how hard the series is now. We are one of the top three seeds for the final event but that offers little protection from drawing some of the big powerhouses of sevens rugby. Personally, I like those sorts of groups – it’s what you play and coach the game for – big games in front of big crowds in one of the true cathedrals of world rugby.
The attendance levels of the Marriott London Sevens are again going to break records. Six years ago we didn’t get past 40,000 supporters over the weekend and this season you can nearly treble that figure. We can now proudly say we are putting on the biggest one day attended event in the global sevens season and that is testament to the growth of the game and the success of London as a venue. Approximately 85% of games in the series are won or lost in the last minute. That means the crowd will be on the edge of their seats for a large proportion of the weekend and as ever, big games will be decided on the slimmest of margins.
As for England, we will be giving everything. Twickenham gives us an extra man and the team are incredibly excited to play there. You never, ever lose that feeling of running on to the turf at Twickenham representing your country. We are all very honoured to do that this weekend again and we hope you will be up on your feet as you support the Red Rose. Come on England.