England sevens legend James Rodwell said he would join the England sevens coaching set-up at the end of the 2018-19 HSBC World Sevens Series.
The 34- year-old Rodwell, the most capped English sevens player of all time with 92 tournaments, will retire at the end of the season having won silver medals at two World Cup tournaments as well as Olympic silver with Great Britain in 2016.
At the weekend’s London Sevens, he was awarded the UL mark of excellence award for his achievements, which include a record 69 consecutive tournaments.
“I am really excited by the opportunity to pass on that knowledge on a full-time basis,” Rodwell told England Rugby. “I can really concentrate fully on that, develop the young guys and girls coming through who have shown a lot of potential – I’m really looking forward to the opportunity.”
Head of England Sevens Simon Amor said he was looking forward to working with Rodwell.
“We’re delighted that James is going to be joining the sevens programme solely as a coach,” Amor said to England Rugby. “He’ll be focusing on the kick-offs, the set pieces and the aerials supporting the men and women players – we’re very lucky to have that experience there.
“He’s had that player-coach role this year, and he had to get that balance right but he’s done an amazing job trying to still keep fit so he can deliver in the tournaments. For him to just hang up his boots and just focus on coaching, as it is a real art coaching, I’m sure he’ll be fantastic for both the men’s and women’s programmes.”
Having played eight legs of the world series tournament England are fifth in table standings with 109 points. Fiji lead with 164 points ahead of USA (162), New Zealand (143) and South Africa (131).
With all the automatic qualification spots taken, England will have to take the long route to Tokyo through European Olympic qualifiers to be held on July 13-14 in Colomiers, France.
“For those young guys to come through is encouraging and exciting for us.”
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) May 26, 2019
Simon Amor, meanwhile, said he was pleased with the courage and determination shown by his team in last weekend’s London Sevens tournament. England performed poorly on home soil as they finished 14th out of the 16 teams in the tournament. They lost 29-14 to Japan in the play-offs.
England lost a number of key players such as captain and playmaker Tom Mitchell, veteran Dan Bibby, Alex Davis and Harry Glover to injury before the London Sevens tournament. Those injuries forced Amor to call up several young players and he even had to draft in Tom Emery from Northampton Saints just weeks before the London tournament.
“Obviously we’re really disappointed with the way we finished the Japan game, unfortunately for this young group it was one game too far,” Amor was quoted saying by England Rugby.
“We’d shown such incredible fight and effort right the way through this tournament and I’m really proud of the performances the guys put in – some narrow losses but there are ups and downs of sevens and that is what the game is about.”
Main photo: England Rugby