With the 2011/12 Rugby Sevens World Series kicking off in Australia this weekend England have named, former marine, Greg Barden as the man who will captain the side through this year’s campaign, replacing long time captain and record points scorer Ben Gollings.
Barden described his appointment as “a huge honour and a huge privilege to be named England Sevens captain.” He is one of 12 full time sevens players named in England’s squad for the upcoming season, who will be aiming to improve on a promising third place in the 2010-11 series, which included victory in the season opening Dubai event. If England hope to build upon the successes of last year they will have to, again start well this year.
Like his predecessor Gollings, Barden has ended a military career to take up a full time playing contract with the RFU’s Sevens team, having served with the marines for 14 years prior to his appointment and he expressed the similarities between a military career and the Sevens game at the World Series launch this week. He noted that “A lot of personal things are the same in terms of aims and how far I want to push myself and Sevens is the perfect game for that physically and mentally.”
The challenges set by serving in the military provide the leadership, physical and mental skills that are ever useful in playing competitive Rugby Sevens. Barden also sees similarities between his two careers in “the way the lads think in terms of camaraderie”.
The similarities between Barden and Gollings give a positive impression of Barden. If he can achieve anywhere near as much as Gollings did as Seven’s captain he will have been an exceptional servent for the England team. He has the platform and many of the skills as a leader required to build upon the foundations laid by Gollings and lead England through a successful Series. The first tournament of the series is held this weekend in Australia and England will face Wales, Scotland and Tonga in their pool, before hoping to progress to the business end of the weekend.