Sevens great Gollings embarks on new career
As a player he did not compete in many Bowl finals, but the goalposts have shifted recently for Ben Gollings.
By the end of a glittering Rugby Sevens career Gollings had scored 2,652 points in the World Series for England, more than double the tally of the great Waisale Serevi, but much of that counts for nothing in his new role as coach of Sri Lanka.
Last weekend he was confined to a place on the bench as he took charge of the Sri Lankans for the first time in international competition, at the Borneo Sevens in Malaysia.
Japan may have gone on to win the title, beating Hong Kong in the final, but there was no mistaking the fact that the highest profile face among the teams was that of the former England captain.
“It’s been an interesting week for me as I have only just arrived in Sri Lanka but I am pleased with the guys," said Gollings after guiding his charges to the Bowl trophy.
"I’m still getting to know them but it was their goal (on Sunday) to go out and win the Bowl and they’ve done that, which gives us a great platform to build on of for the coming tournaments.
“The HSBC Asian Sevens Series is really excellent for the Asian nations. It gives them the opportunity to develop their rugby and for Asia it is a step in the right direction."
Gollings is no stranger to success in Asia, having won four Hong Kong Sevens titles between 2002 and 2006, and competed in the tournament for a decade. He has taken a step down the pecking order to begin his international coaching career, but has been enthused by what he has seen.
“I have been impressed by the standard of play in Borneo. There has been some strong games and it seems to me it is developing very fast. I think that with the nations participating in Borneo you will see them develop the quickest with what they have going on, in terms of a highly competitive Series structure.”
Caravelli fires the Volcanoes
While he gets to know his players, Gollings will at least have one familiar face among the Asian Series coaching roster, with former USA Sevens coach Al Caravelli having recently taken charge of the Philippines.
The Volcanoes are rebuilding under Caravelli and finished runners-up in the Plate to Chinese Taipei. However, he, like Gollings, knows that three places are up for grabs for Asian sides at next year's Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow, so incentives are high.
“With World Cup places on the line every country will be sending out their strongest teams (in the Asian Series)," said Caravelli. "This will make all games very competitive and a top three finish. We expect Japan, Hong Kong and China to continue their dominance and also Korea should challenge for a top three spot.
“This is a unique opportunity to put the country on the world stage and it will help local development immensely."