England 7s out to finish on a high
May 8, 2013
Mat Turner sprints away for the England Sevens side © Getty Images
England are looking to end the IRB Sevens Series on a high when they welcome the world to Twickenham this weekend, according to former IRB Player of the Year Mathew Turner and captain Rob Vickerman.
It has been a season of ebb and flow for Ben Ryan's men with the highs of the victory in Wellington and the semi-final in Glasgow last weekend contrasted by their poor showings in Dubai, South Africa and the USA. Long-term injuries to Chris Cracknell, Chris Lewis-Pratt and Turner threw a spanner into the team's works early on, but ahead of the final leg of the Series, England look to be finding their form and are keen to end the campaign on a winning note.
Vickerman, who amassed over 50 top-flight appearances during his time in the XV form of the game, was named England's skipper for this season and he has complete faith his crop of players can prove the doubters wrong and finish the season with victory at Twickenham.
"We're going into the last leg on the back of a really confident in Glasgow where we showed lots of character and hopefully that's going to shine through again this weekend," Vickerman told ESPN. "We have spoken in depth about winning the 50-50s and we managed to do that last weekend so we're hopeful of doing the same this time out.
"We've had some injuries but then so has everyone else. But we're looking forwards and not backwards so we want to finish strongly in our home tournament."
For Turner - whose broken ankle in Australia saw him miss the Dubai and South Africa legs of the series - while injuries have had some bearing on England's mixed form, he puts the turbulent season down to the odd bounce of the ball going against his side with small margins playing a key aspect.
"It hasn't been a very good season for myself as due to the injury I haven't found any form but hopefully that will change this weekend," Turner said. "For the team, it was been small things that have let us down in tournaments. It has been very small things which have seen the game go the other way.
"Last weekend in Glasgow we realised what we were not doing well and we played well in our last two games on day one. As we look at the season, it has been frustrating as we know we have the players and the ability to get to finals and win them, as we did in Wellington. But it's just a matter-of-fact that we let teams score from our errors.
"But we have hopefully addressed them and in Glasgow we eliminated most of our unforced errors".
Following the culmination of the Sevens Series, England will turn their attention to June's World Cup. The 2009 tournament saw England crash out in the quarter-final stage of the championship to Samoa in sudden death extra-time and Vickerman is keen to right those wrongs.
"It is not necessarily the best team that wins the tournament; it's the best team on the day. It's one of those occasions where you really have to show some mettle and this weekend will be a great melting pot to test ourselves in."
Rob Vickerman passes the ball to Stuart Lancaster at the launch of the Twickenham Sevens © RFU
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Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.