LONDON, ENGLAND – It’s damp and chilly in Jolly Ol’ England according to the mercury reading, but you wouldn’t know it by the warm smiles worn by the sunny-dispositioned rugby-loving chap on the street. And it’s not because Mike Tindall, the scapegoat for the putrid showing by England in the Rugby World Cup has finally been hung in Trafalger Square. No, it’s actually a positive rugby story that has the whole lot of them strolling the streets, greeting those that pass with a hearty, “Cheerio.”
What’s all the fuss about? Well, if you watched any of the Dubai leg of the HSBC IRB Sevens Series, you got to see an invigorated, meshing unit of hungry, skilled and well-coached rugby players… from Mother England. That’s right, Ben Ryan, the calm, quiet antithesis of Martin Johnson, has assembled himself a nice little team in the shadows of England Rugby’s gallows.
What’s different about this squad that has us picking them to win the whole enchilada? Well, aside from ‘retiring‘ the most prolific scorer in 7s history, Ben Gollings, here are some of the reasons Coach Ryan & Co will win:
– Isoa Damu is back from injury and military service. This relocated Fijian is a moose with 7s in his DNA and is now playing in the backline. He would easily prop but he’s got the moves and pace to wreak havoc on defenses.
– The Front Row: These guys are so good, that Ryan can stick Damu in the open field. James Rodwell, Greg Barden and Chris Cracknell lead the charge but they are deep here, as their substitutions in the 2nd half of the Final showed.
– Mathew Drew Turner, our Tuesday correspondent on RWU, has been switched to scrumhalf – and it could be the move of the tournament. Turner can flat out fly. Dan Norton is probably the only one that can catch him – and not if Mathew has a 5-10 meter head start. Turner scored 12 trys and 60 points in Dubai… from scrumhalf. That is an eye-opener. With Norton, Damu and Marcus Watson outside and the big boys in the scrum, they can strike from anywhere at anytime.
Sure, it’s early in the Series and England did win Dubai last year, but this just feels differently. And that team from down under that plays in the black jerseys looks shockingly invincible. Stay tuned.
Leave your comments below and please tune in tomorrow for Mat Turner Tuesday.