Ryan eyes top spot after Cake Tin success
February 12, 2009
Coach Ben Ryan is predicting further success for the England Sevens team © Getty Images
The England Sevens coach Ben Ryan believes that after winning the Wellington leg of the IRB Sevens World Series that his team are now firmly established as one of the top teams in the game and are realistic contenders for Sevens World Cup success in March.
England staged a dramatic comeback in the final in Wellington to upset the home team 19-17 despite trailing 17-0 at one point. An inspired half-time team talk by Ryan saw England fight back to stun the hosts and now sees them just four points behind the IRB Sevens Series leaders, South Africa.
England go into this weekend's Series event in San Diego in a buoyant mood and Ryan believes that their success in New Zealand can spur them on to greater heights.
"This was my first tournament win and this was England's first tournament win in New Zealand. We're one tournament away from the World Cup so this is good timing for us," said the coach.
"We have worked really hard to get to this point. We've had consistency in our players, they're fit and they have a lot of belief."
The Sevens World Cup takes place in Dubai this year, kicking off on March 5 and Ryan believes that his team are showing the form that could see them challenge for the title of World Champions: "Samoa, Fiji, South Africa and New Zealand have outperformed us in the past, but we feel as though we're up there with them now, but we have to back up each tournament with another big performance and the World Cup is a further step up."
Ryan knows how crucial this World Cup can be to his players who have higher ambitions in the game and one only has to look at some of the players like Danny Care, James Haskell and Ben Foden, who have come through the Sevens ranks, to see that there is a progression from Ryan's team to England senior honours.
"The Sevens World Cup only comes around every four years and these players have the opportunity to be part of something special," he said. "This is a very exciting time for English rugby. We want to reach the top, and that means winning the World Series and the Rugby World Cup Sevens.
"I'm looking forward to seeing what these players can do. We have put in a lot of hard work behind the scenes and we have every intention of being hugely successful."
"Gentlemen, if you want to see the World Cup going south yet again, you are going the right way about it," John Taylor looks at the state of European rugby
The Heineken Cup proved once again just why it is the best domestic rugby competition in the world at the weekend and Monday Maul picks out some of the key talking points
The latest Week in Pictures brings you a selection of the best snaps from around the rugby world with scantily clad ladies, O'Driscoll and snow all featuring