Greg Seeks Improvement in George
A week after his most promising England Sevens debut in Dubai, Cpl Greg Barden hopes that he, and the team, can go one better in the second leg of the iRB World Sevens Series, which takes place in George, South Africa. Greg has retained the number 2 jersey but unfortunately Navy Rugby colleague, Chef Josh Drauniniu, has had to return home for some treatment on his knee. Greg, like Josh, had a dream start last week, scoring in his first game. However by the end of the tournament injuries had taken their toll and England succumbed 19 – 12 to this weeks hosts, South Africa. Ben Ryan, England Head Coach, has had to make a number of forced changes through injury to key players like Ollie Phillips, Uche Oduza and of course Josh (3 tries). However the team’s first outing is against Tunisia and then France so hopefully the new combinations will have bedded in before England again face New Zealand. Last week England proved to be victorious in a hard fought semi final (21-19) so if they are to repeat their pool winning performance, in Dubai, the team know they will have to overcome the black onslaught. For many, rugby sevens is one of the most exhilarating sports. However it is also a brutal one for the players. The two day WSS tournaments are a supreme test of physical and mental conditioning. Individual mistakes are ruthlessly exposed and even when the lungs are bursting there is never the ‘do nothing’ option. It is at these times that leadership and team values come to the fore and it is perhaps of little surprise that so many elite rugby teams make use of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines as part of their preparation. It is hoped that when Greg (and Josh) return to Navy Rugby that the benefit is two way and some of the experiences gained with England Sevens are used to improve all those that wear the Navy shirt. Photograph is of Greg with his Bristol team mates during a recent visit to one of HMS Raleigh's simulators.