x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Dallaglio voices his backing for Varndell

Lawrence Dallaglio says he is baffled as to why the winger Tom Varndell is not held in higher regard in the corridors of power in English senior rugby.

DUBAI // Lawrence Dallaglio, the former England captain and world cup winner has said that he is baffled as to why the winger Tom Varndell is not held in higher regard in the corridors of power in English senior rugby. Varndell, 23, who plays for the Leicester Tigers, is back in the England sevens side, which originally launched him as a star back in 2005, for their World Cup tilt in the UAE.

He started the season as part of England's elite senior squad, yet has tumbled down the pecking order, to the extent that he now rarely features for his club side let alone on the international stage. Dallaglio said: "I have never understood why people don't believe in him. I think he is a fantastic player. "OK, so he has not played a lot of rugby - but what an athlete. I, for one, believe he will have a big impact [in Dubai], along with the likes of Tom Biggs. I am very hopeful about England's chances."

Dallaglio was a Dubai Rugby Sevens winner back in 1993, as part of the White Heart Marauders team who won on the sand pitches of the Dubai Exiles. The former No 8, who was a World Cup winner in both forms of the game, said the abridged form was a "fundamental part of his success", and believed that England's struggling senior side, who have lost two out of three games in this year's Six Nations Championship, could learn something from their sevens compatriots.

"It is still under the radar, and the expectations are not as great, so that does create less pressure," he added. "I think it is more to do with the confidence of winning tournaments. In sevens, England have got a team who go into every tournament believing they can win. "They are coming into the World Cup with form behind them, they have won in New Zealand, and they will go into this tournament with genuine belief.

"Apart from the front five, I would have every player playing sevens at some stage in their career. There is a huge amount to be gained from it." @Email:pradley@thenational.ae