Ugo Monye and Ben Ryan join Guardian Sport

Former England and Lions star Ugo Monye and Olympic gold-winning Sevens coach Ben Ryan are joining the Guardian as columnists for the Six Nations and the rest of the rugby year.

Ugo Monye and Ben Ryan join Guardian Sport

Monye and Ryan will deliver their insight and international perspective in print and online with the Guardian, Observer and

They join an expert team including former New Zealand All Black and Guardian columnist Nick Evans, rugby union correspondent Robert Kitson and our reporters Paul Rees, Gerard Meagher and Michael Aylwin, for a bumper year which includes the Six Nations, European Rugby Champions Cup and the World Cup in Japan.

Monye played 14 times for England and 237 times for Premiership side Harlequins mainly as a wing but also as a centre and full-back. He also played two Tests for the British and Irish Lions on their 2009 tour of South Africa and was the Lions’ highest try scorer on that tour. Since retirement he has become known as one of the foremost pundits as an analyst on BT Sport across their coverage of the Premiership and European rugby, and co-presenter of the Rugby Union Weekly podcast on the BBC.

After a playing career as a scrum-half with Cambridge University, Nottingham and West Hartlepool, Ryan began coaching with Newbury, where he quickly earned a reputation as one of the brightest thinkers on the game. He was coach of the England Sevens side and took them to a world final. In 2013 he became coach of the Fiji Sevens side and won the World Sevens. In 2016 he famously coached Fiji Sevens to Olympic gold in the Rio Olympics – the country’s first Olympic medal of any kind. His book Sevens Heaven: the Beautiful Chaos of Fiji’s Olympic Dream was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year. He is now a consultant to leading sports organisations including French Rugby, UK Sport and companies around the world.

Ugo Monye said: “With a huge year of rugby ahead, it seemed the perfect time to join up with the Guardian. This should be one of the most competitive Six Nations that we’ve seen, and lead us nicely in to the domestic season climax and then a Rugby World Cup. I’m looking forward to offering my insights on the big moments each week.”

Ben Ryan said: “I can’t wait to write for the Guardian. When you get involved with someone you really believe in what they stand for then it makes it even more special. I’m looking forward to putting my slightly different view on rugby across this amazing season.”

Will Woodward, head of sport for Guardian News & Media, said: “I am delighted to welcome Ben and Ugo to our rugby team to give the best expert analysis alongside Nick Evans. They are imaginative thinkers about the game ready to offer original views – and just talking to them makes me excited about the views they will offer our readers over the next few months. With Rob Kitson leading our reporting team we couldn’t be better placed to deliver live, international and interactive coverage in what promises to be a fantastic rugby year.”