- Vickerman to captain England in World Cup
- England face Argentina, Hong Kong and Portugal in the pool stages
England Sevens Head Coach Ben Ryan has named his 12-man squad to compete in the Rugby World Cup Sevens next week in Moscow (June 28-30).
Rob Vickerman has been named as captain of an exciting-looking squad, 11 of whom were involved in England’s encouraging third-place finishes in the last two rounds of the HSBC World Series in Glasgow and London.
Vickerman, 27, is joined alongside James Rodwell as the only survivors of the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai in 2009. England finished fifth at that tournament after losing to Samoa in the quarter-finals.
The squad also includes Dan Norton, who scored 52 tries in the HSBC World Series this year and topped the World Series points ranking table. Norton was also named the HSBC England Sevens Player of the Year last month.
Also nominated for the RPA Sevens Player of the Year award were Marcus Watson and Tom Powell and they both make the squad alongside Mat Turner and Tom Mitchell, who have recently returned from injury.
Ryan said: “It’s been a difficult decision to whittle this squad down to just 12 – we have left some key players at home – but this is a squad I am really excited about.
“I am delighted to name Rob as captain. He is a fantastic captain who always leads by example. He is an excellent sevens player who is hitting a rich vein of form right now. All the squad really respect him both as a player and a captain and it’s fantastic to have someone of his calibre coming into a Rugby World Cup.
“We have also missed some key players this season so to have some of them back for the World Cup is a nice bonus. Players like Tom Mitchell and Mat Turner returned for the last couple of rounds of the World Series, but since then they have gone up another notch – especially in terms of fitness – and it’s going to be really exciting to see what they can do in Moscow. To have them and a player of Dan Norton’s ability in our squad is very exciting.
“We’re heading to Moscow with some good momentum behind us after two third place finishes in Glasgow and London and then winning the first leg of the European Grand Prix in Lyon. That has given us some added confidence, coupled with some great preparation. The squad is looking sharp, very fit and ready for the challenge ahead.”
England have been drawn against Portugal, Hong Kong and Argentina in the pool stages. On paper, Ryan’s side will be favourites to progress through to the knock out rounds but Ryan knows it’s all about who turns up on the day.
He added: “We are going to Russia to win the World Cup, not to make up the numbers, but at the same time we would be foolish to not concentrate on the present first.
“Only the winner of each pool goes through to the knock out stages so we know we have got to win all three games. Portugal, Argentina and Hong Kong are all good operators who are capable of big wins. We have studied them hard and although we have got a good record against them we know we have got to bring our A game.”