Dubai: The IRB Women’s World Series kicked off at the Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens here on Thursday, but the men take centre stage on Friday with the second round of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
One of the highlights of day two includes joint-record four-time Dubai winners England’s clash with five-time event runners-up Fiji at 8.02pm on pitch one.
The fixture is significant given that it sees former England coach Ben Ryan – now with Fiji – face his old team under the lights of The Sevens Stadium, where he previously won two events with the Red Roses in 2010 and 2011.
It will be the second time Ryan has faced his old side since switching allegiances in September, after his new team lost to England 26-12 in the plate quarter-finals at the series’ opener in Australia last month. Fiji eventually finished fifth Down Under while England went on to finish third.
Ryan will now be looking to get one over his England successor Simon Amor, who won here in Dubai twice as a player and captain in 2004 and 2005.
“England are one of the top sides,” said Ryan. “The scoreline at the Gold Coast was 26-12 so that’s a great litmus test of how far we’ve come in a month. Is that going to get wider or narrower come Friday night? I’m looking forward to seeing how the boys have put preparation into practice at the weekend.”
Meanwhile, England coach Simon Amor played down the relevance of Ryan’s revenge. Did he think Fiji’s clash was a grudge match given Ryan’s inside knowledge? Amor said: “I don’t think so. Ben is a great coach and has done some great things for England and will do some great things for Fiji. The focus for us is about what we are doing and what we can change and control.”
Ryan said he wasn’t too disappointed with his team’s performance in the Gold Coast, despite losing to his old side, but he is now anxious to get back into contention this weekend.
“I thought we over performed,” said Ryan of round one. “I saw the fitness results and they weren’t good. They weren’t fit and there were some players unavailable. I thought they played well considering the build up they had.
“Fiji have won the world series once and they have never won in Dubai. They’ve only won the next stage in Port Elizabeth once in eight years. These two tournaments have proven tricky in the past probably due to travel and it being the start of the season.
“I can see that it’s been tough for them but if the weather stays like this and the boys play with the wind on their backs, anything is possible.”
Selected women’s World Series Results
Canada 26 France 0
Australia 38 Brazil 10
New Zealand 33 Fiji 7
USA 12 Ireland 12
England 36 Tunisia 5
Russia 10 Spain 10
Canada 12 Brazil 12
Australia 31 France 0
New Zealand 29 Ireland 0
England 14 Spain 14