x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Ben Ryan and England face another tall challenge at Dubai Sevens

England's sevens team are far better resourced now than they were in 2007. Even so, making it to the top of the pile this time around, missing two key players, will be a mighty feat for Ben Ryan's squad, writes Paul Radley.

Ben Ryan, coach of the England sevens team, will be bringing a squad missing a few key elements to the Dubai Rugby Sevens tournament.
Ben Ryan, coach of the England sevens team, will be bringing a squad missing a few key elements to the Dubai Rugby Sevens tournament.

 

When Ben Ryan led England at his first Dubai Rugby Sevens in 2007, he seethed over a headline by the local media which declared his side needed "a miracle" to win the competition.

As a young coach in charge of an even younger side, he took it as an unwarranted slight against a group of people just trying to make their way.

Much water has passed under the bridge since. But when he arrives here next month for his sixth Sevens, he might think similar thoughts. Or at least that luck might at least deal him a better hand than it did on the opening weekend in Australia.

Having won the past two editions of Dubai's biggest annual sporting event, Ryan well knows what goes in to victory here.

Chief among the ingredients for success is being able to having your best players on the field.

This time around England will be without their leading back, Mat Turner, who was the player of the tournament here 11 months ago, and Chris Cracknell, a veteran of numerous trips to Dubai.

Each sustained serious, long-term injuries at the Gold Coast Sevens.

Ryan is a big fan of Pep Guardiola and the Barcelona side he created. Put in those terms, the loss of Turner and Cracknell is like Barca losing Xavi and Gerard Pique for the season.

England's sevens team are far better resourced now than they were in 2007.

Even so, making it to the top of the pile this time around, like then, will be a mighty feat.

pradley@thenational.ae

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