Ryan reveals extensive preparations ahead of Commonwealth Sevens
SEVENS has come a long way from the days when it was seen as an extended jolly-up.
TASKMASTER: Ben Ryan is putting England Sevens team through their paces ahead of the Commonwealth Games (Reuters)
Tales of drinking exploits in England's 1993 World Cup victory at Murrayfield were just as legendary as their feats on the pitch.
How times change. England's Sevens squad are now rubbing shoulders alongside the likes of Olympic heptathlon bronze medalist Kelly Sotherton and Great Britain's rowing team at a dedicated training base in Bisham Abbey in preparation for the Commonwealth Games that are still two months away.
Tactics have evolved from giving it to the quick lad out wide to months of analysis and data compiled using GPS technology in addition to video analysis, nutrition expertise and recovery techniques.
The players too are now full-time specialists who live a monk-like existence between events with England head coach Ben Ryan leaving no stone unturned in his bid to organise his squad, who might be described as bit-part players or emerging talents in the XV game, into a well-oiled Sevens machine.
The former England under-21 back now locks his 17-man squad away for three months as he puts them through their paces ahead of an assault on Delhi, revealing less is often more in the world of sevens.
"At first we were very careful to not push the guys too hard and force them into a blowout. So we have eased them into it all, but we are now starting to crank it up," he said.
"At club level they tend to get them in and do a fitness test straight away and then push them really hard. I don't bother doing that because I know they aren't going to be fit as they have only just got back.
"We are heading into our fifth week of training and the guys are definitely in a much better shape than they have ever been at this stage of the year and we're trimming them down further.
"A lot of our players will want to play Premiership rugby. However, our back rowers for example are told they are too small to play the XV games. But I don't think so.
"If you look at the Southern Hemisphere teams then they are smaller and slighter then the England guys and they do alright.
"So they come to us a bit bigger than I would like and it is like a boxer, getting them down to their fighting weight and ready for the Commonwealth Games."