x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Shield fails to deflect the disappointments for England at Dubai Sevens

Ben Ryan, the coach, is unhappy with the failures of the defending champions, writes Paul Radley.

England beat Spain 26-5 to win the Dubai Rugby Sevens Shield. Jake Badger for The National
England beat Spain 26-5 to win the Dubai Rugby Sevens Shield. Jake Badger for The National

DUBAI // Ben Ryan, the England coach, said he will not even be taking the IRB shield home with him from Dubai after enduring the most disappointing weekend he has had in rugby.

After arriving on these shores aiming for a hat-trick of Dubai titles, England eventually won the fourth tier consolation tournament when they beat Spain yesterday evening 26-5.

The accountants at English rugby's headquarters will not be processing any receipts for excess baggage when the team return home from the UAE. Ryan does not want a reminder of this trip to the Middle East.

"I was pretty emotional [on Friday] as it means a lot to all of us," Ryan said.

"We sacrifice a lot. I don't spend as much time as I'd like to with my wife.

"All those sort of things mean you care a lot about what you do. When you lose it hits you personally."

Ryan said that some of his players were so hurt by their performance here that they had been moved to tears.

"The pressure is not on from the RFU - they are not saying, Ben, if you don't win you are out of a job," the coach said.

"It is personal pressure. I had a 19-year-old kid who was crying all the way home [after England were knocked out of the cup competition on Day 1].

"It means a lot to them. They are the sort of traits in players that, as a coach, I could do a lot with.

"In the modern professional game, if you have a kid that it means that much to, I think that is important."

At least one English coach could take some vestiges of optimism away from the 2012 Sevens.

Mike Friday, who coached England to Emirates International Trophy wins in 2004 and 2005, reached a second successive cup semi-final since taking the reins of Kenya.

Despite being more concerned with his own duties this weekend, Friday acknowledged he had also felt some anguish over England's demise.

"I am an Englishman and an England supporter," he said. "I am immensely disappointed with their results as I am a passionate supporter and want to see them do well and compete.

"They are not performing. I don't know why there are not performing, but they are not.

"Unfortunately the sevens circuit is a harsh environment and there are no easy games any more."

pradley@thenational.ae

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