x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Toffees example for England's sticky start

The England Rugby Sevens team could learn a few things from Everton about finishing the season strongly.

England who failed to impress in Dubai also disappointed in South Africa. Getty Images for HSBC
England who failed to impress in Dubai also disappointed in South Africa. Getty Images for HSBC

UAE rugby might have its own worries, but at least it can lick its wounds away from the spotlight given the relative lack of glare on the sport here.

Imagine being in the shoes of England's sevens team. Ahead of this season, they had more coverage and resources - and thus expectations - than ever before. And, buoyed by finishing third in the last world series, they were bullish about their chances, too.

Three events in to the new season, though, and it has all gone wrong. Having failed to reach even one cup quarter-final so far, they lie 13th in the standings, below the likes of Portugal, Canada and the United States.

Ben Ryan, the coach who is always an illuminating speaker whether in person or cyberspace, is clearly disconsolate. "I understand the grief some of you have given us - we don't like losing either," he tweeted from South Africa at the weekend.

The worry for England is they are usually so much further on at this stage of the campaign.

Given that Dubai always falls at the start of the world series season, and that England traditionally perform well here, they have normally been good starters. Kind of like an anti-Everton in football. England have usually shown title-winning form at the start of the campaign, then tailed off as the season goes on.

If they are going to salvage anything from this season, maybe Ryan should get in touch with David Moyes at Goodison Park to see if he can borrow the formula of how to finish strongly.

pradley@thenational.ae