England Sevens coach Ben Ryan reports from Australia on the eve of the Sevens World Series which starts on the Gold Coast this Saturday.
We're off again! The Sevens World Series starts up this weekend after a break of four months, and what a busy four months that has been.
We won the three-tournament European GP Series, coach Russell Earnshaw led a GB Students side to the World Universities title and our programme has expanded as we drive standards higher.
Nineteen young men in England are now full-time international sevens players and 12 of them play this weekend on the Gold Coast in round one of nine. Competition is high for selection and it’s been well documented how fit and strong our squad are.
But it won’t win you tournaments if you get out there, look great in the tight shirts and then run around without a clue. The fitness, speed and sheer athleticism of our players often gets top billing on any news coming out of the camp but it only tells a small part of our story.
Let’s be straightforward about this: our professional players these days, to be the best, need to get their conditioning and their nutrition spot on. They won’t be seen rolling out of late night bars or burger joints because, frankly, they no longer live that lifestyle.
All the stuff we do to get them in great shape comes from doing the simple things well; measuring and managing them and understanding individual nuances through data and experience. I would expect all the other rival teams to have ticked those boxes as well as we have.
The difference in sides winning or losing at the very top of the international game comes down to execution if their strategy is right. Many teams we play against have a similar formula.
In attack they stretch teams to effectively disconnect defenders and find space. In defence they try to stay connected as a team and force errors or lead teams into areas in which they feel confident they will turn the ball over. Success relies on them executing their strategies and hoping they are the right ones!
With England we have a style we have worked hard on and that needs to be executed against all the teams consistently to bring us success. It’s my job and Russell’s job to make sure the way we approach the game stands up to whatever is thrown at it and the players all understand how to play it. It’s a great challenge.
It is also about understanding your players, working out how they like to learn, and what helps them get the best out of each other. Then that needs to shared among the players so they all know as much as they can about each other.
All this is designed to make the team run as well as possible and it’s a process you have to invest time in to turn a great team of players into a team that is great. This week, until we kick off on Saturday, the players will run the sessions we have planned.
I love watching the team run a practice session as I (metaphorically at least), get in my helicopter to look at the bigger picture from above.
It’s certainly an exciting time for everyone supporting and connected to England Sevens. The lads are well prepared for the Gold Coast Sevens as are all the squad and management for the year ahead.
We have all sat and cheered in awe at the brilliant performances throughout a dramatic summer of sport back home and now it’s time for us to get up and get going. Come on England!
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