(irb.com Friday 27 April 2012)
Two weeks ahead of their home tournament at Twickenham, England Sevens captain Greg Barden (pictured below by Michael Steele/Getty Images) week announced his retirement from the game.
“We’re sorry to lose Greg, who’s been a great competitor for us over the years, and we wish him well,” said head coach, Ben Ryan.
Ryan has named former captain Andy Vilk and newcomer Dan Bibby in a 14-man squad preparing for the final two rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Glasgow and London.
Former Northampton Saints, Sale Sharks and Treviso flanker Vilk, 30, led England in the 2007/08 season and has been training with the squad this term while playing under Neil Back at Rugby Lions.
He is joined by uncapped playmaker Bibby, who has appeared for England Students and UWIC this season. Isoa Damudamu will be available again after this weekend’s Army v Navy contest, and experienced campaigner Simon Hunt is also in the group preparing for the events in Glasgow (May 5-6) and London (May 12-13).
Two players in the 12-man squad at last month’s Tokyo Sevens are not included. England Sevens captain Greg Barden (retired), while playmaker Christian Lewis-Pratt needs surgery on a shoulder injury.
Said Ryan: “It’s great to be able to give Andy Vilk and Dan Bibby the opportunity to push for places going into the final two rounds of the series in a very competitive training group.
“Andy knows the Sevens scene well and he’s been training with us for much of the season, as has Dan, who is still a student at UWIC but a talented guy who was player of the tournament for Sale Sharks at last year’s JP Morgan Premiership Sevens.”
England Sevens: Dan Bibby (UWIC), John Brake, Chris Brightwell, Chris Cracknell, Isoa Damudamu (British Army), Sam Edgerley (Rosslyn Park), Simon Hunt, Tom Mitchell (Oxford University), Dan Norton, Tom Powell, James Rodwell, Mathew Turner, Rob Vickerman, Andy Vilk (Rugby Lions).