Ben Ryan wins 50th 'coaching cap' for England this weekend in Port Elizabeth

Ben Ryan wins 50th 'coaching cap' for England this weekend in Port Elizabeth

This weekend's Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay South Africa Sevens marks a special landmark for England Sevens head coach Ben Ryan as his 50th tournament in charge. Despite acknowledging his own personal milestone, Ryan is more focused on ensuring England's disappointing start to the 2012/13 HSBC Sevens World Series does not continue. "After what happened last weekend, this tournament couldn't come soon enough," said Ryan on the eve of the third round of the Series. "I am proud to have been coach for that long and whilst it is a nice landmark, for me it is just another tournament."

This weekend's Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay South Africa Sevens marks a special landmark for England Sevens head coach Ben Ryan as his 50th tournament in charge.

Despite acknowledging his own personal milestone, Ryan is more focused on ensuring England's disappointing start to the 2012/13 HSBC Sevens World Series does not continue.

"After what happened last weekend, this tournament couldn't come soon enough," said Ryan on the eve of the third round of the Series.

"I am proud to have been coach for that long and whilst it is a nice landmark, for me it is just another tournament."

For the first time under Ryan England have been in two successive Bowl competitions and were only able to lift the Shield in Dubai as defending champions.

Their performances so far have left them with just 10 Series points and 12th in the overall standings, and being in the lower tier band for the pool draws moving forward is something Ryan is aiming to get out of this weekend.

"I can see why the supposed second tier nations keep getting into the Bowl because once you get into that tier it is difficult to get out of," added Ryan.

"We need to get out of it, I have never had two Bowls in a row, but we have lost some key players. If you take Raikabula, Forbes, Mikkelson and Cama away from New Zealand, it would be hard for them too.

"But our younger guys are learning, and they will learn more this weekend."

Last season England finished third overall and following the pool draw for this weekend's tournament, face the two teams who finished above them in Fiji and New Zealand.

"We have a tough pool.

"New Zealand have escaped our clutches a couple of times in South Africa, but we get another chance to have a crack at them this weekend. It was depressing in George when we conceded a penalty in sudden death for New Zealand to win, and also when we scored four tries against them yet still lost when Israel Dagg scored in the corner.

"Everyone knows if Fiji hit their straps they are difficult to beat, but we have a good record against them. To get out of the Bowl we know we need to knock either number one or number two from last year out. But we don't want to be in the Bowl this weekend."

NZ beat England in George

 


Looking back over his career, however, there are some more positive notes for Ryan to draw experience from this weekend.

"The first victory over New Zealand where Tom Biggs scored a cracking try, that was pretty special," admitted Ryan.

"That broke the seal really on beating them because it hadn't happened for seven years previously. After that we had a final in Scotland and then three out of four. That showed the next chapter for us. Our 17-0 down in New Zealand, that was enjoyable to silence the Cake Tin.

"But every time you run onto the field, it is exciting. As a coach you don't get stale, if anything you just get more excited."