x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Experienced Gollings is back in the frame

Ben Gollings has been recalled by England for the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens, two years after announcing his intention to step down.

DUBAI // Ben Gollings has been recalled by England for the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens, two years after announcing his intention to step down. The journeyman back is the leading point-scorer in the history of rugby's short form, but planned to make the 2006 edition of the IRB series his last, in a bid to revive his career in the 15-man game. Gollings, 28, was a key part of England's 2005 triumph at the Dubai Exiles and a mainstay under the former coach Mike Friday. He has since plied his trade in the 15-a-side game in New Zealand and Australia, but was still a notable absentee in the new coach Ben Ryan's squad for the trip to Dubai last year.

England have struggled to emulate their glory years of 2005 and 2006 in recent campaigns, and Ryan has called on the experience of Gollings to compliment a raft of exciting young talent. Ryan said: "This is a very exciting time for English rugby across the board and the energy from the senior side is rubbing off on the other representative sides." Dubai has proved a successful launch pad for young English talent in recent years. Tom Varndell was the player of the tournament as they won the 2005 edition, while David Strettle was a star of their 2006 campaign - and both have played for the full Test side since.

Meanwhile, the Dubai Dragons underlined their credentials as title-challengers with a 17-13 win over the Abu Dhabi Harlequins in the Arabian Gulf Premiership. The triumph cemented second-place in the table for the Dragons, who trail the leaders, the Dubai Exiles, by a single point four matches in to the campaign. @Email:pradley@thenational.ae