BEN GOLLINGS will lead England’s Rugby Sevens team at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi next month.
The 30-year-old from Bournemouth makes his third appearance at the Games after appearing at Manchester in 2002 and winning a silver medal at Melbourne in 2006.
Gollings is arguably the world’s greatest Sevens player, having scoring 2,374 points in the IRB Sevens World Series, a thousand more than his nearest rival, Waisale Serevi.
He captains the 12-man group named by head coach Ben Ryan at Twickenham today.
Seven players – Gollings, Greg Barden, Kevin Barrett, Chris Cracknell, Isoa Damudamu, Dan Norton and James Rodwell – were in the side that clinched the Wellington and London Sevens titles in 2009.
In Delhi, England face Namibia, Uganda and an eagerly anticipated game against Australia on the first day of the 16-team tournament staged on October 11-12.
Head coach Ryan said: "I’m pleased with the squad and we're looking forward to what should be a hotly contested Commonwealth Games Rugby Sevens in Delhi.
"There will big guns like New Zealand, who have won three gold medals since Rugby Sevens was introduced to the Games in Kuala Lumpur in 1998, Samoa, who won the last World Series, and Australia will also be strong, so we’re certainly not going to be the favourites.
"But we’re fit and well prepared, and we have a hungry squad with a good blend of youth and experience who are desperate to wear the England shirt and will give their all to succeed in Delhi.
“The spirit is good, the players have fought for their places and they’ve put in lots of hard work. Those qualities will be our strengths and now it comes down to putting together a string of performances to get us on the medal podium.”
England chef de mission Craig Hunter welcomed the Sevens squad into the 550-strong England team today and said: “Rugby Sevens will be a great competition at the Games. We wish the squad well in their final preparations and for the Games."
In 2006, England beat Australia 14-12 in their pool encounter and defeated Samoa 17-14 and Fiji 21-14 before going down 29-21 in a pulsating final against New Zealand.
England were 15-7 down at the halfway mark at Melbourne’s Telstra Dome before a try by Andrew Vilk, converted by captain Simon Amor, cut the deficit to a single point.
But Tamati Ellison broke English hearts with two tries in quick succession to ensure the Kiwis maintained their impressive record at the Games, despite a late try from Gollings.
The full England team for the 2010 Games is as follows:
Name/Club/DOB/Place of birth/Current residence
Greg Barden (Royal Navy) 08.02.81 Perth, Poole
Kevin Barrett (Saracens) 06.07.80 Ascot, St Albans
John Brake (England Sevens) 22.04.88 London, Towcester
Dan Caprice (England Sevens) 20.10.89 Chatham, Rochester
Chris Cracknell (England Sevens) 06.08.84 Windsor, Wargrave
Isoa Damudamu (British Army) 01.09.81 Fiji, Southampton
Ben Gollings (England Sevens) 13.05.80 Launceston, Bournemouth
Simon Hunt (Birmingham & Solihull) 22.7.81 Clapham, Birmingham
Dan Norton (Bristol Rugby) 22.03.88 Gloucester, Bristol
Tom Powell (England Sevens) 11.10.85 Rotherham, Sheffield
James Rodwell (England Sevens) 23.08.84 Wendover, Birmingham
Mathew Turner (England Sevens) 19.01.88 Cape Town, Twickenham