England and Ryan still hurting from 2009(IRB.COM) Wednesday 26 June 2013
It will have been a huge boost to coach Ben Ryan that England's men finished their recent HSBC Sevens World Series campaign on such a relative high with two third-placed finishes.
For much of the season Ryan's men suffered from injuries and a resulting inconsistency in performance, which saw them languishing further down the table than they or anyone else might have expected.
However, two much better performances in Glasgow and London - to add to their Cup triumph earlier in Wellington - put a real gloss on the table by the end and England finished as the highest-ranked northern hemisphere side in sixth place and building momentum towards this stand-alone World Cup.
"This World Cup represents a lot of unique and memorable moments," Ryan said. "The first Olympic stadium hosting a global rugby event and the first time they have hosted such a big rugby tournament.
"Moscow is an amazing city, one we visit every year in the European Grand Prix series but for all those outside this continent, it is a place few will have played in before.
"The next World Cup will now not be until 2018, which will mean for many of the players this weekend this will be their only chance to win the World Cup."
Four years of hurt
For Ryan's men this tournament offers a real chance to put right the wrongs of four years ago, and also an opportunity to emulate the feats of players like Lawrence Dallagio, Matt Dawson and Andrew Harriman, who lifted the Melrose Cup at Murrayfield 20 years ago.
"We can't wait for the weekend. It has been a steady build up towards Friday night and our first group game against Portugal. Two third-place finishes in the last two World Series events, record wins against Samoa and Fiji and a tournament win in the first round of the European Series defending our European title gives us some good results to build on," added Ryan, whose side faces up against Argentina, Portugal and Hong Kong in Moscow pool play.
"Last week we travelled up to the French Alps and the resort of Tignes for some secluded, high volume training before slimming down the team to the dozen selected for Russia."
Of the 12 selected, only captain Rob Vickerman and James Rodwell are survivors from the 2009 World Cup in Dubai, where England lost their quarter-final against Samoa.
"They both remember the utter desolation of losing an incredibly eventful quarter-final to an excellent Samoa side that went into extra time. It took some time to sink in that we had been knocked out - it was the most surreal few minutes of my coaching career.
"Four years on and that memory shines as brightly as it did back in Dubai. I guess that’s why a quadrennial event such as this holds so much gravitas with all the teams."
England v Samoa, RWC Sevens 2009