Andy Vilk and Dan Bibby in England Sevens squad for season finale
England have named former captain Andy Vilk and newcomer Dan Bibby (pictured) in a 14-man squad preparing for the final two legs of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
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 sevens campaigner Simon Hunt is also in the group preparing for the Glasgow Sevens (May 5-6) and the Marriott London Sevens (May 12-13).
Two players in the 12-man squad at last month’s Tokyo Sevens miss out. Captain Greg Barden this week announced his retirement from the game, while playmaker Christian Lewis-Pratt needs surgery on a shoulder injury.
England are fourth in the series rankings but looking for a strong finish to the campaign in Glasgow and London, which drew a world record weekend crowd of 100,094 to Twickenham last year.
The squad reassemble in London next week and Head Coach Ben Ryan will name the 12-man group and a new captain before they depart for Glasgow on Wednesday.
Ryan said: “We’re sorry to lose Greg, who’s been a great competitor for us over the years, and we wish him well and Christian a speedy recovery from his shoulder operation.
“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).
HSBC Sevens World Series Rankings (top 6): 1 New Zealand 128, 2 Fiji 122, 3 South Africa 105, 4 England 104, 5 Samoa 101, 6 Australia 84.
You can buy tickets for the Marriott London Sevens via RFU.com, with weekend tickets from £30, with single day tickets from £18 and kids tickets from £5 each day.