England eye Hong Kong Sevens win

The Hong Kong Sevens is a "must-win tournament" for England, according to sevens coach Ben Ryan. [more]

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The Hong Kong Sevens is a "must-win tournament" for England, according to sevens coach Ben Ryan.

The four-time defending champions, who have been drawn to face the hosts, Argentina and Korea in the pool stages, need to retain their title to boost their ranking in the International Rugby Board Sevens table.

England currently sit fifth in the standings and, following an unsuccessful defence of their USA Sevens title just over a week ago, Ryan is under no illusions of the importance of next month’s tournament, which will see the winners claim 30 ranking points instead of the usual 20.

"There is no debate. Hong Kong is a must-win tournament for England," he said.

"It offers more points than any of the other IRB Sevens legs, so success there would help put us back within reach of the series title."

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Ryan is hoping to take his strongest line-up to the even, which begins on March 30.

"We are doing everything we can to secure our strongest possible squad," he said.

"It is the same weekend as the Heineken Cup semi-finals, but everyone within England Rugby knows how important winning in Hong Kong is.

"It is the biggest international stage many of the young players will have ever faced, and an experience which many current senior England players name as one of their career highlights to date.

"It is truly a Test match arena and a very positive environment for potential future England players to be involved with.

"There is huge expectation for England to win in a similar way to that of a home crowd at Twickenham.

"If you are wearing the white shirt and red rose of England, there is massive expectation on your shoulders and a great sense of responsibility, which is fantastic for player development."

Reflecting on the draw, Ryan said: "Every team wants to beat England – especially in Hong Kong. I have really noticed how teams up their game when they play us.

"In Hong Kong, England are the draw card so every team we face will be looking to upset us. It is a compliment that they want to beat us but, at the same time, it does give us added pressure."

England’s pool E campaign kicks off on March 30 against Hong Kong, followed a day later by their matches against Korea and Argentina in a tournament featuring 24 teams, instead of the usual 16.

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