England Sevens name expanded squad
England Sevens have named an expanded full-time squad for the 2012/13 HSBC Sevens World Series, just days after the climax to the 2011/12 Series.
England finished third overall in the Series having lost in the Plate final on home soil at Twickenham to Australia in the ninth and final round of the Series, and are already looking ahead to a busy schedule next season which includes the Rugby World Cup 2013 in Moscow.
Ben Ryan's full-time player roster has increased from 12 to 16 with new contracts awarded to Dan Bibby, James Lightfoot-Brown, Tom Mitchell, Marcus Watson, Jeff Williams, Mike Ellery and Jack Preece.
“Being able to keep the bulk of this season’s squad together and add new faces is good news for us in terms of maintaining momentum, increasing competition and driving up standards,” said Ryan.
“We believe we can maximise their potential and turn them into world class sevens players. Some of the new full-time players have already gained experience in the HSBC Sevens World Series; others will make their debuts in Europe this summer and they’re all part of the next chapter for England Sevens.”
Departing are former captain Greg Barden, who has retired, hooker Simon Hunt and wing Nick Royle, whilst assistant coach Russell Earnshaw now has a full-time post after previously combining his role with that of Director of Rugby at Birmingham Solihull.
Mitchell, 22, Bibby, 21, Watson, 20, and Williams, 23, all made their England Sevens debuts this season. Mitchell appeared in six tournaments, Watson in five, Bibby in two and Williams in one, scoring a debut try against Australia at last weekend’s Marriott London Sevens.
Lightfoot-Brown, 19 in June, is a former England Under 18 scrum half whilst Ellery, 22, is an athletic back row forward and Preece, also 22, an openside breakdown specialist.
England can also add further players to the squad either on ‘core’ contracts shared with professional clubs or those in higher education like former England Under 20 internationals Sam Edgerley and Mark Odejobi.
Isoa Damudamu is unlikely to feature though as the soldier dislocated his left knee and damaged ligaments playing for the Army against the Navy last month and rehabilitation following surgery is expected to take at least a year.
England Sevens contracted players: Dan Bibby, John Brake, Chris Brightwell, Chris Cracknell, Mike Ellery, Christian Lewis-Pratt, James Lightfoot-Brown, Tom Mitchell, Dan Norton, Tom Powell, Jack Preece, James Rodwell, Mathew Turner, Rob Vickerman, Marcus Watson, Jeff Williams.
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11-12 May 2013