DUBAI // The sevens coach, Ben Ryan, has assured England's Dubai-based fans that the dark days of the past two seasons are over. Under Ryan's predecessor, Mike Friday, England established themselves as one of the best sides in rugby's short form. They won the Hong Kong Sevens four times in succession, as well as back-to-back Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens titles in 2004 and 2005.
But, Friday's departure, announced on the eve of the 2006 Dubai Sevens, was followed by two fallow campaigns. England are now ranked fifth in the world, and have not been to the Dubai final in the past two years. However, England remain the best supported side at the Dubai Rugby Sevens, and Ryan is confident the fans will have something to celebrate at The Sevens on Nov 29. He said: "Last year's team had a lot of new caps, but this year's side should have fewer new faces, more consistency and, of course, everyone has been selected with next year's World Cup Sevens in mind.
"We have become markedly better these last 24 months after a pretty unstable time. Now we are out the other side and suddenly everything is taking shape. "I cannot wait to see the start of a new chapter for England Sevens starting in Dubai." The chasing pack can expect little mercy from the all-conquering New Zealand team after Gordon Tietjens named the majority of his record-breaking title-winning side in his squad for Dubai.
DJ Forbes, who led New Zealand to an eighth IRB World Series win in nine years last term, Tomasi Cama, Solomon King, Zar Lawrence, Lote Raikabula and Rene Ranger are all in the squad. The Fiji coach Waisale Serevi has been unable to persuade rugby league sensation Akuila Uate to swap codes and play for his sevens side. firstname.lastname@example.org