Dubai: England sevens coach Ben Ryan is looking to smile his way out of trouble ahead of round three of the nine-stage HSBC World Series this weekend after early exits at both the Gold Coast and Dubai events.
The Red Roses missed an opportunity to win in the UAE for the third successive year last weekend when they could only finish third in their group. They then lost their bowl quarter-final to Argentina before winning the shield thanks to victories over Australia and Spain.
That followed on from an equally disappointing display in October at the series opener in Australia, where England lost in the bowl final.
Now 12th in the overall standings on 10 points, the pressure is on Ryan to turn things around ahead of the next tournament in Port Elizabeth in South Africa this weekend. But with seven players out of a squad of 19 injured, it will be a tough task for the youngsters Ryan will have to draft in.
“Sometimes if you feel down about things you feel that you’re living a mistruth if you start smiling and enjoying yourself,” he said after England’s win over Spain on Saturday. “But that’s the way to get out of these situations, especially with young players.
“Too much pressure and they’ll start to fold, their heads will go down and they’ll start thinking so narrowly that it won’t do anyone any good.
“I’m going to try, as much as possible, to be enthusiastic with them. This is the road we’re on and we will get there if we stick to it. It’s been an awful weekend and I’ve hated most of what I’ve done this weekend. But the light is at the end of the tunnel and hopefully soon I’ll see it.
“No one at the RFU is saying if you don’t win this you’re out of the job, it’s just personal. I want to do well. I guess you can call it pressure. You’ve got high standards and you want to meet them — if you don’t you’re disappointed.
“We’re all about having a good week next week. We’ll get spirits up and go out and put a performance in we can be proud of.”
Likening their early tournament exit in Australia to a death in the family, Ryan said: “They all got out of it and we’ve had our second fatality now in as many tournaments and they’ll all bounce back. I think they understand that this is all about getting back as quick as they can and there’s no time to wallow in it.
“It’s fair to say the shield will stay in Dubai. It won’t be going back to the trophy cabinet at Twickenham as excess baggage. It’s certainly not what we expected to put in our suitcases after the weekend. But you get to that stage when there’s a bit of resilience when your backs are against the wall.”