Dan Bibby makes England Sevens return, but team's future thrown into doubt
In the wake of doubt being cast over the side’s future, Dan Bibby and the England Rugby Sevens team could only manage a sixth-place last weekend.
They were in action in Vancouver for the sixth stage of the World Series.
The RFU is considering scrapping the England side in favour of GB in a cost-cutting measure, with lower than expected revenues, resulting in more than 60 staff being made redundant in 2018.
Wiganer Bibby was part of the GB Sevens side which earned a silver medal at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016 - and the England side is responsible for earning qualification for GB.
And combining England with Wales and Scotland to form a GB side on a permanent basis, as per the Olympics, has been suggested.
"The sevens programme is one option we are looking at," said an RFU spokesperson.
"Moving to a Team GB model makes sense given that sevens is an Olympic sport.
"We have been very clear for some time that we need to cut costs in 2019-2020 as our revenues have not risen in line with our original forecasts," the spokeswoman added.
"There are a broad range of options under discussion across the professional game, the community game, and our general overheads.
"Any budget cuts in 2019-2020 come after years of record investment in the professional and community game."
Last weekend, after missing the majority of last week’s stage in Vegas, Bibby made his return to the squad for the opening game against Scotland.
A first half try from Will Muir, followed by two for captain Tom Mitchell after the break, helped England on their way to a 21-7 victory as Bibby successfully converted all three kicks.
The second game against Japan was just as routine for Simon Amor’s side. Two tries for Ryan Olowofela and one from Tom Bowen in the first half was enough for England.
Despite Japan getting themselves on the scoresheet after the break, it was nothing more than a consolation as the game finished 19-7.
The final group game saw England up against Argentina, who had beaten them the previous week.
In Vancouver, Bibby and his team suffered no such issue, as five different players registered on the scoresheet as they beat the Argentinians 33-14 to top the group.
Despite their first placed finish, England’s quarter-final tie was far from easy as they placed up against current series leaders USA, who entered this tournament on the back of tasting victory in Las Vegas.
Things were looking good for England as they took a 19-0 lead.
But the USA showed their strength as they turned the result on its head after the break, making an excellent comeback to take the game 21-19.
That defeat placed England fighting to finish as high as possible, with their next game being against Samoa in the fifth-place semi-final.
Things began well as Dan Norton sprinted through for the first try of the game.
But the Samoans were able to respond, grabbing an equaliser to make things 7-7.
England’s lead was soon restored, as Phil Burgess and Richard De Carpentier going over to give England a 19-7 half time lead.
Despite Samoa getting the first try of the second half, England were too strong as Charlton Kerr went over and the awarding of a penalty try saw the game end 33-14.
In the battle for fifth place England came up against New Zealand.
It was the Kiwis who would prove successful, edging out Amor’s side by a single try as the game finished 26-19 leaving England in sixth place.
More would have been expected from England in this tournament especially after topping their group on day one. They are next in action in April’s tournament in Hong Kong.