- Dan Bibby delighted to be back on home soil for Glasgow and London
- Sevens back says England can build on Hong Kong final
Dan Bibby believes the fillip of playing on home soil can fire England Sevens to a first HSBC Sevens World Series title in the coming weeks.
The last two events of the season are in Glasgow this weekend before the final tournament at the Marriott London Sevens at Twickenham Stadium on May 10 and 11. Head Coach Simon Amor named his 12-man squad for the Glasgow Sevens earlier this week, with exciting England Under 20 wing Howard Packman making a first appearance.
And added to the momentum engendered by a first final this term in Hong Kong last time out – a 27-6 defeat to series leaders New Zealand – fly half Bibby says the boisterous home crowd can make all the difference.
"It’s huge to have the last tournament of the series at home," said the former Cardiff Metropolitan University student. "Especially coming on the back of the final, although we lost it’s definitely something to improve on and coming to Twickenham in front of a home crowd is going to be the boost we need.
“[New Zealand] was probably one game or step too far but it was really pleasing to see some of the improvements that we’ve made. We beat South Africa and Fiji to get to the final and they’re both in the top three teams [in the series standings]. We were a bit unfortunate against New Zealand but we’re definitely making progress.
“If you look at our last 12 months were always hitting semi finals so it’s pleasing to always come away with that. But we just need to take it one step further in these next two tournaments.”
Photo: Getty Images
After signing full time for England Sevens in the summer of 2012, Bibby has become a central figure for Amor’s side. The 22-year-old appeared in four series tournaments in his first year but has been ever-present in 2013/14, scoring 15 tries and racking up 129 points.
He credits the improvement to Amor’s focus on developing each individual’s specific skill-set, as well as making sure they are proficient in all aspects of the game in the exposed world of international sevens.
“We have a full training week now and that involves a lot more than just training,” he added. “There is a lot more fitness, gym, skills and we’re focusing a lot more on how we can improve our individual skills rather than a broad spectrum. At the beginning of the season we took it back to basics and then we’ve gradually built it up throughout the season, and that’s been reflected in our performances.”
New Zealand and South Africa, the top two teams this season, are paired together – also with unpredictable, sixth-placed Samoa – in Pool A at the Emirates Airline Glasgow Sevens, while England come up against Canada (7th in the standings), France (11th) and Japan (16th) in Pool B.
Despite the promising draw, Bibby said the mentality in the group in look no further than the first tackle of the first match. Returning to more familiar territory, he added that hard work and trust are the key features in England’s recent impressive defensive record, with only 21 tries conceded in the last two tournaments.
He said: “From last season there’s been a massive improvement. If you look at Tokyo we had the best defensive record of all the teams which is really, really pleasing.
“We’re working on defence all the time but I think we’re near enough there now. There’s been bit of work on structures but it’s all about the hard graft and having the bottle to get up there and shut the opposition’s space off. You need to really have confidence in the guy inside and outside you to do a job."