x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Dubai Rugby Sevens never gets old for Sir Gordon Tietjens and Simon Amor

New England sevens coach Simon Amor will not let sentiment cloud his return to Dubai while it is just like old times for Sir Gordon Tietjens, writes Paul Radley.

England rugby coach Simon Amor has had plenty of success in Dubai as a player. Matt Roberts / Getty Images
England rugby coach Simon Amor has had plenty of success in Dubai as a player. Matt Roberts / Getty Images

Simon Amor says the two Dubai Rugby Sevens tournaments he won as captain of England will count for nothing when he attempts to repeat the trick as coach, for the first time this month.

Amor became the first winner of the IRB’s sevens player of the year in 2004 during a golden spell when he led England to back-to-back Dubai titles.

Now he is back bound for the city again. After stints in charge of the England women’s side, then in the domestic XVs game with London Scottish, Amor replaced Ben Ryan in charge of England’s men on the eve of the new season.

The former scrum-half says England have ground to make up on their rivals, having finished third in the opening event of the series, in Australia a month ago.

Asked where winning the Emirates International Trophy with Exiles in 2004 and 2005 places in his memories as a player, he said: “They rank very highly.”

He added: “That was a very special time. Winning any tournament as a player or coach is fantastic. Now I’m trying to focus on the here and now rather than the past.

“We are trying to progress from a solid start in the Gold Coast, we are trying to kick on and we want to push on and have improved performances for individuals and the team as a whole.”

Amor, 34, has been promoted to a coaching role while a few of his contemporaries are still playing in the series.

As a marker of just how much experience he is giving away to his rivals in his new role, the same man remains in charge of New Zealand as when he was playing on the series.

Sir Gordon Tietjens had already been in charge of the All Blacks sevens side for a decade when Amor captained England to the 2004 title here.

Tietjens will be targeting a sixth Dubai title at The Sevens when the tournament kicks off on November 29.

“Dubai is a tournament we haven’t won for a number of years now, and it is about time we changed that,” said Tietjens, 57, whose side were beaten in the final by Samoa last year.

“So we have to carry on from where we left off at the Gold Coast in Round 1, and if we do that, we have a chance.”

pradley@thenational.ae

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