x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

New England coach an old sevens rugby hand

It seems like only yesterday when Simon Amor, the ex-Gloucester scrum-half, was leading the rest of the world game a merry dance on the field of the old Dubai Exiles ground at Al Awir. Paul Radley comments.

Simon Amor, here coaching the Sporting Chance Foundation on the first day of the Dubai Rugby 7s in November 27, 2008, will be back in Dubai this winter as coach of England's seven-a-side. Randi Sokoloff / The National
Simon Amor, here coaching the Sporting Chance Foundation on the first day of the Dubai Rugby 7s in November 27, 2008, will be back in Dubai this winter as coach of England's seven-a-side. Randi Sokoloff / The National

Rugby sevens supporters of a certain vintage might have felt a pang of nostalgia this week when Simon Amor was announced as the new England coach in the format.

It will be good to have him back at the Dubai Rugby Sevens at the end of the year, even if the place has changed a little since he was last involved in the IRB men’s competition in the city. It seems like only yesterday that the ex-Gloucester scrum-half was leading the rest of the world game a merry dance on the field of the old Dubai Exiles ground at Al Awir.

It is nearly eight years since he captained England to back-to-back successes in the Emirates International Trophy in front of pulsating crowds packing the scaffolding stands at Dubai.

The 2005 side of Amor, Henry Paul, Mathew Tait and Tom Varndell must rank as one of the strongest to have won the sevens.

The site for those glories has long since been bulldozed and much of the competition looks totally different, too.

Amor’s re-entry into the series comes at a time when the abbreviated code is making a sharp ascent, fuelled by its impending admission into the Olympics. The format has changed significantly since he was part of it, but expect him to be up to speed immediately.

Amor was a sevens trendsetter and if he can match the success he had here as a player when he turns his hand to coaching, it will be the English supporters who will be laughing last come December.