irbsevens.com and James Mortimer 24.Oct.2013Getty Images
Simon Amor lifted the Dubai Cup as England captain in 2004 and 2005, and Ben Ryan coached England to success there in 2010 and 2011, but both men have welcomed the six week lay-off between the first round of the HSBC Sevens World Series on the Gold Coast and the second round in Dubai at the end of November.
Ryan quit as England’s head coach at the end of last season and started work with Fiji just two weeks before the Gold Coast event, while his England replacement, Amor, is also still sizing up the task in hand, having been appointed at the end of last month.
“We have a lot of work to do,” admitted Ryan after the Gold Coast tournament, where the Fijians finished as Plate winners. “We have a huge amount of talent in Fiji, now we just need to make sure we have the right guys on the pitch, and that they’re fit and good for purpose.
“I now have a good month ahead of Dubai with them — I’ll work them very hard, and if they keep the attitude they had in Australia, where they got their heads down and worked hard, then I can’t ask more.
“But the one thing I can guarantee you is that when they run on to the field in Dubai, they’ll be much fitter, and will be better than they were in the Gold Coast.”
Fiji have been runners up five times since Dubai began hosting a World Series round in 1999. Having lost out to Amor and England in the Gold Coast Cup quarter finals, they have again been pooled with them in Dubai, along with Canada and USA.
Former scrum-half Amor is well known to fans as a player but is now looking to build on Ryan’s work and turn England into genuine challegers for the World Series.
England lost to eventual winners New Zealand in the semi-finals in Australia but finished strongly with a record 47-0 victory over a tired South Africa to take third place.
"We need a lot more time on the training field, so Dubai can stay a long, long way away as far as I'm concerned!" said Amor.
"We need to spend more time together just practicing and fine-tuning on how we're going to play the game. So far we've focused on our defensive game but now we're going to start moving on to way we want to attack, so lots of work ahead before we get to Dubai.
"We’re making a lot of changes and the players are going to make mistakes in tournaments. The key thing is that they keep learning and growing.”
In the other pools in Dubai, Series leaders New Zealand face matches against Kenya, France and Portugal; Gold Coast runners-up Australia will play Wales, Scotland and Spain, while South Africa face tough matches against Samoa, Argentina and Russia.
After the opening round of the Series in Australia, defending champions New Zealand lead with 22 points from second-placed Australia (19). England lie third under new coach Simon Amor (17) ahead of South Africa (15) and Fiji (13).
The Dubai Rugby Sevens takes place from November 28-30, hosting round two of the HSBC Sevens World Series and round one of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series.