Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Ryan targets World Cup glory

Ben Ryan's England have been drawn in Pool F alongside Argentina, Portugal and Hong Kong

England sevens head coach Ben Ryan is targeting nothing but success in the upcoming World Cup in Moscow after he named a strong squad for the tournament.

Drawn in Pool F alongside Argentina, Portugal and Hong Kong, England will be looking to do better than they did in Dubai four years ago when, as joint favourites to win the competition, they were eliminated in the quarter-finals. Ryan, who also managed the side in Dubai, wants his players to go all the way this time around.

"You can't hide away from the fact that our goal is to win the World Cup," he told Press Association Sport.

"When we have our best squad available and we play our best game we are a really hard side to beat. We have plenty of experience and plenty of ball players, there is no apparent weakness in our squad.

"We learnt valuable lessons in Dubai four years ago, going into the tournament as joint favourites and losing in the quarter-finals."

Eleven of the 12-man squad have been involved in recent HSBC World Series events in Glasgow and London and, in captain Rob Vickerman and record cap-holder James Rodwell, Ryan believes he has the best of a strong bunch available to him in Russia.

"We have such strong competition for places coming into this tournament, better than we have seen all season," he said.

"We had some horrific injuries at the start of the season but all the guys are back now and had all been pushing hard for selection and it has certainly been one of my hardest selection choices I've had for sure."

With rugby sevens gaining Olympic status from Rio 2016 onwards, there is likely to be extra exposure to next week's tournament in Moscow. But Ryan is more interested in joining a select band of English international sevens competition winners, with two previous World Cup successes to live up to.

"The fact it is going to be in the next Olympic Games is hugely exciting but you can't think much beyond the next tournament," he added. "We want to follow in the footsteps of the 1973 and 1993 teams, it has been 20 years since an England team won the World Cup and we want to make sure we can also achieve that."

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