x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

England still lucky in orange as they win Dubai Sevens

Ben Ryan's side see off France in one-sided final to retain their title, but the real battle was won in the quarter-final against New Zealand.

England's Mat Turner, second right, was named Man of the Tournament at the Dubai Sevens.
England's Mat Turner, second right, was named Man of the Tournament at the Dubai Sevens.

DUBAI // The tangerine abominations which England were originally forced to wear as a punishment are threatening to become a permanent fixture at the Dubai Rugby Sevens, after Ben Ryan's side retained their title wearing their lucky change kit last night.

Mat Turner, who wore a dazzling pair of hot lava boots to go with his garish playing strip, was named Man of the Tournament, after England trounced France in the most one-sided Dubai final in recent memory.

Ryan ordered his side to wear the orange shirts as penance for losing a pool match to Portugal here 12 months ago.

They went on to win that competition, and the nauseating number has become their "finals shirt" ever since.

"It is a superstition," Turner, who scored seven tries in the competition, said. "As much as we know the crowd don't like it, we enjoy it, and when we are on the field it is all about us. We like it, and we are not going to change it."

Dubai is unambiguously England's patch, so much so the French marching band even ushered in the kick off for the final by playing God Save the Queen.

Their side were only slightly less accommodating on the pitch, as England dominated to such an extent that Ryan deemed the showpiece "boring".

Their seminal game was essentially played at 11.32am, when they beat New Zealand in the quarter-final.

There appears to be little love lost between the two sets of players, and a fractious tone was set before kick off when Ryan and his coaching team evicted their counterparts from their technical area.

"He wasn't very happy, he probably won't speak to me for a while," Ryan said of ordering Gordon Tietjens, the New Zealand coach, off his turf.

"It is good if we are getting under their skin, because it shows they think we are a decent side. I'll take that as a positive."

The contretemps continued on the field, with various scuffles breaking out between the world series holders, New Zealand, and the defending Dubai champions from England.

"We let our actions speak louder than our words on the field," Turner said. "We let them do all the talking and we do all the showing."

A second consecutive triumph in Dubai marked quite a turnaround from Ryan's team, who had opened the new campaign with a faltering performance in Australia a week ago.

"We grew in stature throughout the weekend," said Greg Barden, the former marine who provided an assured presence as England's captain.

"To be No 1 in the world you have to beat the best teams. We will concentrate on ourselves this season and what we can do on the pitch."

pradley@thenational.ae