- Strong England challenge for IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup at Twickenham
- Stars Emily Scarratt, Natasha Hunt, Kat Merchant and Sarah McKenna called-up
Photo: Getty Images
England Women have announced a strong squad to compete in next month’s IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup at the Marriott London Sevens at Twickenham on May 12-13.
England Women’s Sevens Head Coach Barry Maddocks has made four changes to the side that lifted the IRB Women's Challenge Cup at the Hong Kong Sevens last month with Six Nations winners Emily Scarratt, Natasha Hunt and Katherine Merchant all coming into the fold. They are joined by Wasps’ Sarah McKenna.
Scarratt, who has 39 caps in the full game, is set to make her international sevens debut while Hunt and Merchant have experienced England Sevens on the UK circuit. McKenna was part of the England Sevens team that reached the final of the inaugural IRB Women’s Sevens Challenge Cup in Dubai in December.
Maddocks said: "This is a really exciting squad that I believe have the ability to seriously challenge for the title in London. We have made some changes but we have been working on developing a wider Sevens squad.
"Emily is a newcomer to the sevens squad but she has proved herself to be a fantastic player at XVs and although this tournament will expose her to a different level of sevens, she has the raw talent to be a great sevens player.
"Natasha, Kat and Sarah have all experienced the England Sevens set-up before so now really it is about developing their skills at this level. I am sure they will all make a real impact."
Scarratt and Merchant will join England Women's campaign in defence of their European Cup in Italy after the conclusion of the London Sevens.
Photo: Getty Images
Twelve of the best international women’s sevens team will compete over the two-day tournament, including World Cup Sevens champions Australia, Hong Kong finalists Canada, the USA, Netherlands, Russia, Brazil, China, Kazakhstan, France, South Africa and Portugal.
Maddocks added: "It’s fantastic to be playing in this world class tournament on home soil. The fans always come out in their numbers at London and create a great atmosphere. With the tournament also being the third IRB Challenge Cup Sevens the Marriott London Sevens will be another significant step-up in the growing profile of this sport.
"It is certainly going to be a tough tournament but an exciting one. The final between England and Australia in Hong Kong was a thrilling match and one that will be remembered for a long time, whilst Canada, who have had an impressive two years in Sevens, will be strong. You also can’t underestimate the likes of France who, despite this being their first Challenge Cup tournament, will be as unpredictable as ever."
Tickets are now available for the London Sevens weekend via RFU.com, with weekend passes starting from £30, single day tickets from £18 and children’s tickets at £5 each day.
England Women's Squad for Marriott London Sevens
Rachael Burford (Richmond)
Heather Fisher (Worcester)
Sonia Green (Saracens)
Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)
Sarah McKenna (Wasps)
Katherine Merchant (Worcester)
Isabelle Noel-Smith (Bristol)
Alice Richardson (Richmond)
Emily Scarratt (Lichfield)
Michaela Staniford (C) (Wasps)
Joanne Watmore (Worcester)
Kay Wilson (Bristol)