Worcester scrum half Ben Jones has revealed he has a double cause for celebration after being called into the England Sevens squad for Wellington and San Diego (February 6-15).
Jones will get his first taste of international rugby for the Sevens side in the tournaments and is keen to use it to showcase his ability to the Warriors coaching team and push for a first team call-up at Sixways Stadium.
However, the trip to America will also mean a family reunion as his uncle – who he has not seen for several years – coincidentally leaves in San Diego.
“I’m delighted to be called up to the England Sevens, it’s not something I ever expected but one I fully intend to take,” he said.
“I had heard whispers that I could be involved and anytime you get the call by England – be it seniors or sevens – it is a huge buzz.
“I knew I was there or thereabouts in terms of selection having spoken to some of the coaches. They have seen me play in some A team rugby and just wanted to check my fitness and thankfully Keir Hansen and Stuart Pickering at the club have kept me really sharp.
“I know some of the boys in the squad. The captain I know and also Ben Gollings who I played with at Doncater. It should be a great experience and I am going to win.
“It also gives me a chance to go to San Deigo and see my uncle Barry. I haven’t seen him in years since he moved over to America and so it’s by pure coincidence that I will be in the same city as him so we can have a family reunion. I will get him some tickets and look forward to catching him – it has made it a real double celebration for me.”
With just 37 days to go until the start of the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009, Wellington and San Diego are important preparation for Ben Ryan’s men, as well as a crucial opportunity to earn valuable series points.
Currently sitting third in the rankings, behind South Africa and New Zealand, England are just four points behind second place New Zealand.
They will face Argentina, France and Canada on day one of the New Zealand tournament, the third event of the 2008/9 IRB Sevens World Series. In San Diego (Feb 14/15) they will face tough pool opponents Samoa as well as Scotland and Japan.
“I’m looking forward to going and showing what I can do,” added Jones. “Mike Ruddock has told me he will be watching closely and I want to use this to push my claims for more starts at Sixways.”
Greg Barden (Bristol Rugby/Royal Navy)
Kevin Barrett (Exeter Chiefs)
Tom Biggs (Leeds Carnegie)
Chris Cracknell (Exeter Chiefs)
Isoa Damudamu (Army)
Ben Gollings (Gold Coast, Australia)
Ben Jones (Worcester Warriors)*
Dan Norton (Gloucester Rugby)*
Ollie Phillips (Newcastle Falcons)
Charlie Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester Rugby)
Rob Vickerman (Leeds Carnegie)
Andy Vilk (BenettonTreviso)
*Denotes uncapped for England Sevens
New Zealand Sevens, Wellington, February 6 & 7
Friday February 6, 2009
England v France (kick off 1.00pm local time, GMT+13)
England v Canada (Kick off 3.56pm local time, GMT +13)
England v Argentina (Kick off 8.50pm local time, GMT +13)
USA Sevens, San Diego, February 14 & 15
Saturday February 14, 2009
England v Scotland (kick off 10.02am local time, GMT -8)
England v Japan (Kick off 12.55pm local time, GMT -8)
England v Samoa (Kick off 5.05pm local time, GMT -8)
To follow England Sevens go to www.rfu.com/sevens